Q: My husband and I were lucky to share 37 years of a happy marriage. As with every relationship, we had our ups and downs, but I know I couldn't have found a better man. Sadly, my husband lived with a heart condition for several years and passed away nearly a year ago.
After grieving, I realize that I'm falling into unhealthy behavior and separating myself from others. My husband was always the more outgoing one, and I'm afraid that I will never be as happy again.
During my husband's illness, we discussed the possibility of me remarrying, but I haven't found anyone since his passing.
I'm now trying to decide what to do in the future, and I'm making a list of positives about being on my own. Can you think of any?
A: Moving on after the death of a loving mate, companion or partner is always possible. It's up to you to decide whether you want to make the effort.
Living alone offers you the opportunity to feel, think and do the things you want without having to first discuss them or compromise. You're able to sleep, read, travel, get a pet, move or do nothing — all without having to justify your wants.
After being in a relationship for so long (especially with your partner having a long-term illness), it's easy to fall into self-neglect. You may need a little time and space to re-center yourself.
You can regain your identity as a person rather than part of a married couple. You can think about trying something new like learning a foreign language, taking a cruise or perhaps choosing a part-time career.
You now have the power and chance to do what you may have always considered in the back of your mind. Depression and loneliness prey on many seniors, but you have the opportunity to get out there.
You may not be in the right mindset now to find a new partner, but you don't have to resign yourself to misery. Opening yourself up to different experiences will let you meet new people and form new bonds (friendship included).
Seek out positive things! — Doug
Q: My mother's health is on the decline, and she isn't up to traveling for the holidays. She lives several hours away, and we can't visit her instead, as there are now young grandchildren in the mix and finances are tight.
What can I do to make her feel included?
A: The most important thing is to let her know she is loved and you're all thinking about her — the distance shouldn't matter!
There are several ways to include her in the festivities. Just because you can't spend the season with her doesn't mean your bond is any weaker.
Send a family card with a photo at the beginning of the season, around early December.
Seniors love receiving mail and getting pictures of family members (especially children). Even though there's a temptation to email photos, a physical copy is often more meaningful — you have to filter through your collection and choose one, as well as go to the effort of sending it.
Don't forget to call her on the actual holidays and set aside some time to chat. It doesn't necessarily have to be a long call (as it's a very busy time), but everybody loves to know that others are thinking about them.
If you can, try to visit after the craziness of the season is over. Although we tend to think of the season as a time of togetherness, family is year-round. — 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.