Seniors: Changing Course After Loss

Mar 11th, 2011 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Right now, this very day, there are a number of spouses dealing with the imminent death of their mate.  It may be that the partner who is ill is at home,  perhaps in hospice,  is dealing with a limited number of days before death strikes. 

When it comes, the surviving spouse will be faced with a plethora of necessary adjustments.  If your own spouse has already died, sometime ago, you may also be dealing with the continuum of required changes in your own life. 

This column is dedicated to those who are already struggling with redefining their life’s course.  Unless a person has gone through this valley previously, it is likely the experience will come with its surprises and unexpected changes.  Those changes may even be unwelcome.  But come, they will.

Changing one’s course after loss is inevitable.  Life, of course, will never be quite the same.  There is no reclaiming the kind of experiences and style of living that previously served you well. That does not have to be a negative in your own pursuit of redefining who you are and how you will proceed in your own enjoyment of life.

Consider these changes: 

  • You are faced with living alone, at least for a period of time. 
  • You are met with needing to assume all the obligations, previously shared by you and your spouse.
  • You are now in a state in which you may feel somewhat awkward, because you are no longer a part of a pair. 
  • Friendships will likely move in the direction of relating more to persons (other men or women)  who are, like you, single.  This will be easier if you are female. 
  • You will be challenged to determine what you will do with your residence, keep, sell, lease. 
  • Your first major responsibility will involve having a full understanding, hopefully previously reviewed, of your financial situation. 
  • You will need to review the possibilities for moving to another location, perhaps one where your children now reside. 

These and countless other changes, some less overwhelming, will confront you as you begin to chart your course for the next phase of your life. 

Here are a few suggestions to guide you as you proceed:

+Do nothing in haste.  Allow yourself time to grieve.  Give yourself permission to ask questions and seek support.

+Do not make any impulsive decisions.  Do not sell your house right away.  Do not disrupt your routine, more than it already has been.

+Do not rush into a premature romantic relationship.  Give yourself time.  Allow yourself to move into your new life course with deliberation and thought.  Emotions, while necessary and present, will need to be governed with prudence and discipline. 

+Do identify persons with whom you can comfortably relate and associate. 

+In conversation, do not dwell on the past.  A one time telling of your experience with new acquaintances can be quite enough.  Limit your need to repeat incessantly your experience. 

+Find a group or groups with whom you find a comfort level for spending time and cultivating relationships.

+Protect yourself from persons who might exploit your situation.  If you feel vulnerable, find ways to protect yourself and persons whom you can trust.

Having examined all the issues which you have identified as important to your circumstance, you have begun to work on them, now find someone who will join you for lunch and celebrate your progress.



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