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Does society discriminate against the widow?



I did a talk in a church group yesterday afternoon on being a widow. Initially I was asked if I would be the MC for the afternoon, then the guest speaker let us down and I did that too. The theme was about a way in which being a Christian helps us in our daily life so I explained something of what it is like to be a widow after being a wife for 44 years. I spoke about how hard it is to be on your own when in my case I moved from my parents house into my home with my husband without any sort of transition and so I had never lived alone before. It is another reason why I miss Ray so much.


I found it hard to write and harder to read but it was an honest look at what I have been through. A lot of people came up afterwards and told me how they could relate to what I said and only some were widows. Of course there are a lot of people who live alone for a lot of different reasons, some have never married, some are separated or divorced and some simply cannot live in the family home for some reason as was the case with Ray when he lived in the nursing home. I never thought of us as separated as you know I was there almost every day so it was as if he simply lived in another place which I visited on a regular basis, and as I got to know the staff, other visitors and the residents where Ray was the hours at home seemed just another part of my life.


I think in a way I have not, after three and a half years, yet got used to living on my own. I try not t think too much about how things were in the past and to think more in terms of the present but I never get that feeling of relief when I walk into MY home that I hear people talk about. I think during my caregiving years that my home became my workplace. During the time when I looked after Ray full time our home was not a place of safety and contentment so much as it being a place I was responsible for, and responsible for all that happened there. That is why I say it seemed more like a workplace. I know now I can make some alterations to make it back into my home but somehow if I move furniture or buy something new it seems to make it worse not better and I still think": I shouldn't have it there because that is where....".


I guess we just have to go on educating people so they know how we feel. Some of the people who heard my talk said they never realised widows were sometime discriminated against by their couple friends, it is not so noticeable in our society I suppose, it is just assumed that widows will sit with other widows. I usually do anyway as they are the ones inviting me to sit with them. In the Lions Club a lot of the men sit with their golfing or bowling buddies so the women do tend to sit together so as not to feel alone. When I go out to eat at one of my favorite buffets it amazes me when the girl acting as hostess says: "Just one today, stood you up did he?" I guess I should reply but usually i don't bother to say that sometimes I just plan to eat alone, it is easier that way.


I have other pet peeves about the way society discriminates against people who live alone, like now I am looking to go on tours and cruises again the fact that most are priced "twin share" so I either have to pay an excessive supplement or find someone else to share with. Buy one get one free is the same deal, I don't want to eat that extra large packet of cereal and certainly don't want to buy two of them. I cannot contemplate buying that butt of beef that the supermarkets are marketing as a bargain. With meals for one I cannot buy the whole pumpkin unless I am making soup for the freezer or expecting the family for a few days. There are a lot of bargains that I simply can't buy.


I know I am whingeing here, I am so fortunate that I have a roof over my head, a steady if not large income, the freedom to come and go as I please. But some days I would trade it happily for Ray being back here with me. I do so miss the company, the talking things over with someone, the fact that we had so much history in common. I am never going to find that with someone else and living alone is lonely for me. Life is a compromise I know and change is hard to accept. But acceptance is only ever step by step, it doesn't come as a package does it?


Today one of my favorite men at church said he is moving back to Sydney to be closer to family. It seems to be a trend as another couple I see at another meeting I attend told me the same last week, so I am losing three good friends in the near future. All three are friends who accept me as I am, have weathered the ups and downs of my life with Ray and still like me as a widow. Such friends are precious. With my family so scattered I have no plans at the moment of moving closer to any of them. And so I am destined to be alone I guess. It is hard to see the way this will impact on my future so it is better to live day by day.


And so I go on, filling up my days, hoping that it is all somehow worthwhile and what I am meant to be doing. Tomorrow is another BBQ with the Lions Club at the hardware chain Bunnings so I will be on team A starting at 8.30am and working till 12.30pm. I like the day out, dealing with the public has always been a part of my life and there is a lot of cheerful banter as they wait for their sausage sandwiches and the rest of the team are cheerful too. It is hard to raise money for charity so this is a good opportunity for us, raising money and giving it away is what Lions do.


I was quite upbeat yesterday but today is cloudy and that affects my mood, it is the first day past the end of daylight saving so I am thinking about winter and the colder darker days ahead. Guess I will try not to think too much about that, just cross that bridge as I

come to it.


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I just read your blog through for the second time. Thank you for the thought-provoking and nicely-written message. Yes, I do think that society in general tends to be less inclusive when it comes to single people. Your message is a reminder to include our single friends and neighbors in our lives. There is at least a 50/50 chance that we will be there ourselves someday. My only experience with being single was after a divorce many years ago, when I suddenly lost most of my coupled friends. Do you think that sometimes married friends see a single woman especially as something of a threat? It also seems that the thought of losing our partner is something we avoid thinking too much about because it is so difficult to contemplate.


I admire you for putting yourself out there with your church and volunteer work, and for your continued work on these forums. When you are able to turn your "workplace" back into your own home, your place for comfort and solace, do you think that will help? Find something new that you just love and arrange a room around it. Splurge by buying something for the home that just makes you smile. I bet that is what Ray would have wanted you to do.

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I enjoyed reading your blog and can say I felt this with my divorce many years back.  One thing that the church group I was involved with did to help singles was an adopt a singles program.  It didn't matter if the single was college, divorced, or widow.  Anyone who was single could sign up and then the family members of the church adopted a single.  They would have them over for family gatherings, to go grocery shopping, attend sports events, or whatever families do.  It was a great thing for me and I soon found that I wanted to go do things with my parent family.  Obviously, I remarried but I think I would still love to be adopted.  This actually has triggered an idea for creating an adopt a caregiver program...So before I close just let me say don't be down or at least only allow a 10 minute woe is me time but then know you ignited the possibility of something great in some one else.  My thanks to you.  I appreciate you.  Penny

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Sue , as usual very articulate. Yes, changes in life are difficult for people to understand. Yes singles are discriminated against. I do hope that you start to travel again. I wish that I lived closer. It would be fun to travel together. Ruth

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