Q: After my husband died recently, I chose to move to a retirement community. It took me a year to sell my home and finally move in, and now I find myself hesitating to meet my new neighbors. My husband was a wonderfully outgoing man, and he usually took charge of our social life.
I've always been shy, and now I'm afraid to move on. I find myself uncomfortable with joining community activities.
What can I do?
A: The best way to move forward is one step at a time. Find one activity or action that you find comfortable, and it will lead to many more. One friend will lead to another.
Readjusting to life without your long-term spouse is difficult, especially when he or she has passed. It's easy to depend on each other's strengths and not evolve. Now you have to exercise your own social skills. It takes practice.
Now is your chance to shine! Once you find some small successes, you will feel much more confident. The more you challenge yourself, the easier it will become.
Spend time in social settings that feel natural to you. You can take the time to volunteer, educate yourself about your faith or join social clubs for hobbies like travel, reading or gardening.
Most importantly, force yourself to stay busy. That's the secret to staying around longer. — Doug
Q: I have been lucky to have my wonderful cat "Josie" in my life for nearly a decade and a half. But sadly, she recently passed.
I have been grieving for her ever since, and my family is telling me I'll be happier if I adopt a new cat. They know how much I miss her and want the best for me, but I don't feel that I can replace her.
What do you recommend?
A: The fact that you are reaching out to others for advice makes it seem that you are open to the idea. Usually, when we find an idea entirely distasteful, we dismiss it immediately.
When you're in the dumps, sometimes it's best to listen to outside advice! Grief is painful, and it takes time and understanding to regain your equilibrium. A new cat may help restore some balance in your life.
Pets are enriching forces in our lives because they reduce our stress and we share love and affection with them. They make us feel useful, as they need us for care, food, protection and companionship. They give us a good reason to get out of bed.
Consider choosing to adopt an older cat from an animal shelter. Most shelters take care of the basics, like health checks and immunizations. Older cats also have established personalities and aren't as needy as kittens.
It won't take too long for a new cat to become a close member of your family. For many seniors, loneliness is a killer. Having a pet is invaluable.
Don't stagnate in your grief. Choose to move on. — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.