I am a recent widower. My wife passed away after 50 + years of marriage. After resolving legal and estate issues, sorting out her clothes and possessions, I am now trying to figure out what is next for me. I look around the house we shared together for over 30 years and am overwhelmed by the memories. I am also overwhelmed with the space and house maintenance. At times I find myself appreciative of the peace and quiet but mostly I find that I am increasingly sad and lonely.
I wonder if it would it be disloyal to her memory to move out of the house and start again somewhere new? What would the kids think? The idea of sorting, packing, and moving makes me so anxious I just put the idea on the shelf.
-Feeling lost and lonely.
Dear Lost and Lonely,
Saying goodbye to a life partner is one of the saddest experiences. It sounds as though you had a wonderful, rich tapestry of a life together and that you made wonderful memories with one another. Those memories will always be with you and that is your gift. As the survivor, you still have a life to be lived and you are now faced with a series of important life choices. It sounds as though you are already trying to cut a new path that could lead you to new experiences and new friends. Your life partner and your adult children would probably not want anything less for you.
The first step would be to explore your options. If you have friends who have made a move, they are good resources for your search. Think about your life now as well as in the future. If you are going to move, is it better to be closer to your kids or near your friends and neighbors? Are there activities in your present neighborhood that you want to continue to be involved in? How adventurous are you – enough to pull up stakes and start somewhere completely new? Even if you downsize to a smaller home, do you want the responsibilities of maintaining a house? A retirement community can offer interesting options and benefits. Downsizing and giving up home maintenance can free you to do the things you find fun and stimulating. Making new friends and acquaintances is easy because it’s simple to meet folks in the dining room or at programs and activities. No doubt you will find people who share your experiences and can relate to what you have been going through. You always have the option to be alone in your private residence or with people at activities and programs. If things change for you physically in the future, the community has professionals who can care for you and help you make the next life decisions. There is more life to be lived and people who want to join you on the journey!
Author Bio: Susan Katz, Life Plan Consultant
Susan Katz works as a Life Plan Consultant at Wilmington’s original non-profit Life Plan Community, Plantation Village. Susan guides prospective residents through their decision making process as they weigh personal, family and financial obligations. Susan holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and anthropology from New York University. She holds a Master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. She has more than 20 years experience in the senior living sector.
Email Susan your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.