TGB FORUM: Readers Write the Blog – Day 1
TGB FORUM: Readers Write the Blog – Day 3

TGB FORUM: Readers Write the Blog – Day 2

As I explained on Monday, while Peter Tibbles and Norma Gates are visiting from Melbourne, I am taking a mini-vacation and letting you, dear readers, write the blog based on your own topics.

Today's comes from Tamsin. It may, in some instances, be difficult to talk about but I believe it is important to consider, think about and get out into the open.

”Do those who have experienced losing a spouse have any advice for those of us who will be facing that unhappy event in the future? How does life change for a widow or widower?”

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, June Calendar: Things Only Old Folks Know

Comments

At the time you most need that hand to hold, that person you've always turned to in times of need is no longer there. My first advice is to not make any other drastic changes while you are adjusting to a very big loss.

I wrote extensively about the loss of my husband and 12 year old son as a result of a fire in our home in my memoir, It's an Ill Wind, Indeed...that Blows No Good.

I know it's a cliche, but take a moment today and make sure you know where all the insurance policies and bank statements are.

The fear of being overwhelmed and not handling the paperwork can be almost as bad as the loss.

I've not had the experience, but I once watched a neighbor lady flounder terribly when her husband died because she'd been so totally dependent on him. She didn't even know how to write a check to pay her bills or buy groceries. These are basic life skills everyone should know.

I've not had the experience either, but a good friend is going through it now. In this age of computers and online interactions, find a place that both of you know and list any and all passwords! Especially write down the ones that unlock your phone, tablet, pad, and computer. She lost all kinds of information when attempting to plug in a password and the device wiped itself clean after the 3rd try.
Also, if your spouse is in business with others, ask her/him what you should/can do re the business if he/she dies. It may be good to keep your shares and get dividends or you may have to sell at fair market value. Go over all this while you have the chance and don't leave your partner floundering on your death.

Becoming a widow or widower is a life altering event. Nothing will seem the same again. I found that keeping busy was the best coping mechanism.

Learning to do things that your mate had always done is a challenge, but also rewarding.

Each person has to deal with grief in their own way and it can't be hurried. Do not expect too much of yourself, but don't get mired in grief. Let your friends help you when you first suffer a loss, but don't become dependent on them or become tiresome.

I don't think there is a road map for dealing with the biggest loss in your life. Each person must find their own way.

From a practical standpoint, Shelley's advice is good. And while there is time before suffering a loss be sure you are involved with all of the financial aspects of your marriage. Too many widows (and some widowers) let their mates handle all of the money issues such as paying the monthly bills and were at a complete loss after their mate died.

Living in Florida around a high percentage of elders, we have our fair share of opportunists and scammers who seemingly have no conscience and will take advantage of those living alone, some still actively grieving.

People, often women, spending their savings/social security on unneeded new roofs, tree trimming, paint jobs etc. Our recently widowed neighbor lost all her jewelry to scammers who were touring her house to "possibly buy it".

How does your life change? I think you die too---
Eventually you come out the other side but you are a different person.

Money makes all the difference. So make it a priority now. Life changes in a heart beat.

Four years ago my husband had a successful extensive January checkup and the next January he was dead.

I was fortunate because we had time to put all our ducks in a row before cancer took him away from me.

Take pictures of happy days---at first you won't be able to even look at them but later they make you smile and remember.

There is nothing you can do to prepare for a death. Even if you have years of time while he/she spirals downward. You will have a whole in your heart forever, although with time, you won't be as focused on it.

DO be sure you both have medical directives and a trust/will and that any children know your wishes. As mentioned above, get all the passwords and have a list of where assets are ... checking, savings, stocks or bonds, etc.

Grief is not a straight journey. Somedays you feel fine. Other days you feel insane. I'm at 18 months since losing my husband of 30 years.

One of my dearest friends lost her husband of 40 years last August. He was a terrible crab, kept her on a short rope, and always had a list of ailments to complain about.

She will never say this, but his death liberated her. I'm sure this is not the typical story, but it happens.

I have been reading an excellent, and yes uncomfortable to read, book that explores the author's enormous grief at the death of his wife. The book is "levels of life" and is by award-winning British author Julian Barnes. As an aside, this blog's moderator, Ronnie Bennett, sent me the book after I won a drawing a few months ago. The book may indeed be helpful in exploring and perhaps gaining some comfort during the aftermath of a death

Thank you all for sharing your stories and wise suggestions. I am much more concerned about controlling pain (both mine and my husband's) at the end of our lives rather than death itself. It's horrible to watch someone you love suffer and have someone who loves you watch you suffer, especially if it seems endless. From my experience, (mother and brother) hospice care helped tremendously.

Yes, yes, hospice--- they are always a good choice!!!!!! We were with Hospice of the Vally in Phoenix Arizona and I can not sing their praises loudly enough.

Don't wait until the end--- sign on as soon as you can--they know what you need and guide you as you try to adjust to life's end.

I was not prepared to be widowed when I was 55, It was a shock and I was mostly numb for months, My husband died of a massive heart attack without prior heart pain or other warning signs. Because he was active the day before his death, our friends did not know what to say to me and coped with their own reaction by avoiding me. I never was sure whether it was because the "friends" were not my friends but only friends of my late husband.

My role in the marriage was one of supporting my husband even when against my own best interests. His death liberated me. I was happier than I had ever been. I shed people and activities that did not contribute to my wholeness and determined that I would never again be treated like an indentured servant.

I'm glad to hear a comment from Marci. I live in a senior area, I moved here by accident when I was 36 and I see quite a few couples that really do live "lives of quiet desperation". They blossom when their spouse dies.

If I had my life to live over again I wouldn't have married and no, I wouldn't miss him if he died. I would have a hard time pretending to be in mourning. The first thing I would do is sell my house and move to the city. I never could live there because he refused to. That was always the pattern of my life. Many people are like me, tied together for financial reasons, nothing more.

I often think I might live a completely different life without my husband. Then I ask myself: what stopping you from doing it now?

I grieved the deaths of both of my husbands, even though in each case we had been divorced for years. After all, they were the fathers of my children and even though I couldn't live with them in marriage, I still loved (and liked) each of them very much. I know this doesn't compare with the loss of a current spouse, because I was independent when they died so there was no effect on my lifestyle or my finances. Since each had remarried, I was careful to keep my feelings private except for sharing the loss with our children. Meg

I have no direct experience of the death of a partner, although having been married twice before, I know what it's like to pick up the pieces when on my own.

The poignant comments here are reflected in this corner of Spain. Some women have felt truly liberated when widowed, others have gone to pieces because they relied on their partner for everything.

From observation (and direct experience of singledom after divorce) being financially savvy is key; also knowing how to do things that your partner did is important, as Darlene says. I'm thinking of the number of women here who didn't know how to change a gas bottle for their hot water boilers when their partner died.

So, come on gals: if you don't how how already, get learning and avoid being prey to all those odd-job people who want to rip you off or get their feet under your table.

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