When you marry the love of your life, the last thing on your mind is that you’re going to lose them before having the opportunity to grow old together. And that’s probably a good thing. Focusing on the “what if’s” is no way to live, so most of us don’t do that. But sometimes those far off possibilities become realities.
I live by faith, knowing that my future (our future) is in God’s hands. So the experience of being a widow at 60 absolutely changed my life forever. There are many challenges of being a widow, especially at a relatively young age.
But it didn’t remove any chance of happiness and fulfillment for me, although at the time that was hard for me to see.
My husband and I knew that his health was failing, and he told me months before his diagnosis that his days on earth were numbered. He could feel it. And as it turned out, he was right.
We had many discussions about what I would do after he was gone. He told me what he wanted for me, for my future, that he didn’t want me to mourn for him too long, but get on with my life. He knew I would work too hard (of course he was spot on!) and encouraged me to grieve in ways other than working 24 hours a day.
It helped me to be able to talk to him, try to prepare myself as much as I could, for his leaving. Honestly, though, nothing prepares you for the moment when your loved one is actually gone from this earth.
The hours, days and months after that were a brand new experience as well. This is how I survived the loss of my man… my love, and started over in my 60’s.
The way I worked through my grief is unique to me, and may not be effective for others. If you have been touched by grief and the loss of a loved one, know this: you have to find a way to express your grief, feel it, and continue on with your life. It has nothing to do with forgetting the person who has passed, but everything to do with your own health and well being.
Being a Widow at 60 Changed My Life
in 3 Significant Areas
First, I was on my own after 20 years in a relationship that was extremely close.
My husband and I worked together, played together, and spent almost all of our time in each other’s company.
If we were near each other we were touching in some way. Always. So the fact that he was not physically near me any longer was a huge black hole of emptiness at first. I was on my own in a physical sense.
Our life had taken a downturn financially several years before his health declined, so we were not in a strong financial position. Fortunately we had taken out life insurance policies years before, so I had a fresh start in that area and didn’t have an immediate burden to meet the budget obligations.
I’ve always been an independent thinker and a career risk taker to some extent, so this was something I had done before in my life. It was time once again to be the sole source of income. I was on my own in a financial sense.
Although we didn’t do a lot socially, when we did go out, even if it was just up to the pool in our community, it was the two of us. When I was able to think about heading to a restaurant for a bite to eat, or taking a break at the pool, my best friend and soul mate wasn’t there. I was on my own in a social sense.
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Second, I had only myself to care for, and about, in a relationship that was now just one person. Me.
That took some adjustment, actually a LOT of adjustment. I had been working on growing my home staging business while caring for my husband. That care slowly turned into a 24/7 responsibility. I would do it again for him in a heartbeat, but it was tough.
When I thought about the fact that my life was now simpler and I could make decisions that were best for me, I felt guilty even thinking that. How could I feel good about going somewhere, spending money, doing anything, when my man was gone?
He’s been gone for over three years as I write this post and I still sometimes have those thoughts. But I know now that this is the way my life is supposed to be at this time. I can be happy and care about what is best for me, and that is okay.
One of the ways that I share my experiences, what I’ve learned from them, and how I’ve grown as a person, is to create tools and resources for others, like the Fresh Start Challenge. It’s a simple and effective way to challenge yourself to find the balance between mind, body, and spirit.
Why is that important? Well, if we’re not in a place where all 3 of those parts of us are working together, it’s going to be very difficult to move forward in life.
Whether we’re working through grief, working to achieve a goal, planning to start a new business…all of those things require our clear focus.
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Third, I had to make a decision to move forward or to live in my grief and remain in that sad, lonely place.
The challenges of being a widow can stop you in your tracks. This is how I have moved forward in my life being a widow at 60:
- Faith and confidence that the Lord knows what is best for me, just as he knew what was best for my husband. I may not understand it fully, but I know in my heart that He has a plan.
- Trust in my family and close friends, who were all there for me. It was up to me to allow them to help when I needed it most. Asking for help is not easy for me, and I don’t often reach out. But my kids, parents, siblings and others (you know who you are :)) literally kept me going for the first few months.
- Living one day at a time, not looking back, not worrying about tomorrow. This is so much easier to write about than it is to actually do, day after day. But that is what I have told myself every day. “Don’t look back or try to re-live the past. It’s done and over. Love what you have today and be grateful.”
- Share my life experience with others. That is how this blog was born, and although the main focus is on lifestyle topics like natural aging and healthy living, how we face adversity affects everything else in our life.
Support Groups for those who have lost a spouse:
Being a Widow at 60
What’s Next for me?
I can honestly say that my life is good today. Do I miss my man every single day? Absolutely. Do certain things like songs, scents and places bring tears? Yes. Not as much as in the past, but sure, I still cry sometimes.
But when you live for today and appreciate what you have now, in this moment, you don’t go back and wish for something that is not possible.
Today, I am residing once again in the Midwest with family close by. There is nothing more important to me right now than being close to them and having the opportunity to be a part of their lives. That is number one for me.
Growing my blogging business is a high priority, and I’m focusing on learning as much as I can in order to create a viable opportunity for the future. I’m putting my heart and soul into Inspire My Style!
Am I thinking about retirement? Not yet. Not ready for that.
Am I pondering relationships? Honestly, no. I made one very quick foray into the online world of meeting people a couple of years ago, and that experience quickly told me that I was not ready for it, so I let it go and didn’t look back.
When and if the time comes that I meet someone special, my life will take another turn. But I’m not looking for it at the moment. And that’s okay with me.
Have you lost someone who was near and dear to you? It is devastating and life changing for sure, but time is a healer. It might be an overworked phrase, but the passing of time plus an unwavering faith, support from those I love and living for today have been the most significant, helpful resources for me, being a widow at 60.
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