Q: My husband and I had a wonderful 31 years of happy marriage. At least once a week we discussed how blessed we were to have each other. My husband suffered a long illness, but we continued to be grateful for what we had.
Now, after a year of grieving, I've elected to move forward and focus on living with a positive attitude. During my husband's illness, we discussed the possibility of remarrying, but I haven't found anyone since his passing.
I am challenging myself to try to make a list of positive aspects of living alone. Can you add to my short list?
A: Overcoming the loss of a loving mate, companion or partner is always possible. Living alone offers you the liberty to feel, think and simply do as you please without discussion or compromise.
You have your time. You choose when you sleep, read a book, travel, adopt a pet, move or even just do nothing.
You can regain your identity a person rather than as part of a married couple. You have opportunities, such as learning a foreign language, taking a cruise or perhaps starting a part-time career.
You now have the power and chance to do what you may always have been considering in the back of your mind. Although you would like not to have lost your mate, move forward and enjoy what has now become available to you!
"If you make friends with yourself, you will never be alone." — Maxwell Maltz
Q: Lately, I've been feeling very lonely. I'm lucky to have been with my lovely wife for 40 years, but it feels like it's harder and harder to make connections outside the family. I just found out that an old friend I hadn't talked to in a while died recently, and I've been regretting not talking to him more often. How can I stay in touch with people?
A: One of the worst feelings in life is regret for something you can no longer change. Use this experience as a wake-up call, and remind yourself how this missed opportunity felt. The best way to respond to a tragedy is to learn from it.
Making or keeping a friend takes dedication. Going forward, make a concerted effort to nurture the relationships you already have, including old friends you don't often see.
Relationships always require effort from both parties. Much like with gardening, you may not see results right away, but if you consistently reach out, you'll see the fruits of your labor.
It's important to be patient, as your friends may be preoccupied with their own busy lives, especially when you've drifted apart. Reconnecting can be hard at first, but it gets easier as you go.
Relationships and people take time.
H. Jackson Brown Jr. once said, "Remember that the most valuable antiques are dear old friends." — Emma, Doug's granddaughter
Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Betty is a friend of Doug Mayberry, whom she 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.