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Freedom or loneliness?



I find it hard to be home alone when I have been with family for a few days. I went up to visit with my daughter and her family on Monday and came home on Thursday, it is school break so I had the two grandchildren to talk to as well as my daughter and my son-in-law. The weather was drizzle in the main and so we didn't do anything special but it was good to be with them, to have some company, some talk and laughter and I do find it very quiet when I come home. They have two dogs which kept us amused with their antics too running around with their dog toys and chasing each other. It is good to see them all so settled in their new placing now.


The kids have been watching some old home movies of the time before Christopher was born so I saw Ray and Mum and Dad from the aspect of 16 years ago. It was a bitter/sweet experience to see them all happy and smiling and participating in family life. I felt an aching for those days when we seemed so happy, before the major strokes became a problem, before Dad's cancer debilitated him (we finished watching a few weeks before his death) and Mum's Alzheimers took over her life and took away her ability to think and prevented her from living a normal life. I wiped away a tear from time to time as I watched. It was hard to see Ray so vibrant and engaged in life and remember what his life became over the next few years.


It was a pleasant three days and I plan to do it at about three monthly intervals to give me a mini break. It is hard for me to go back to being alone after having been in a lively company. I see my neighbours come and go but they don't have time to talk, I see traffic come and go as all the young ones go to and from work. As autumn turns to winter and the days are shorter, darker and colder I always feel like this since becoming a widow so I know I need to work out what to do to keep myself busy and energised.


Of course I have places to go, things to do and I did go to the church for the Coffee Morning yesterday. We are trying to attract some of the people who pass the church who are probably just as lonely as I am. But yesterday only a couple of ladies came so it was not as we hope it will be in the future. I wonder what stops us from doing the things that will bring us new relationships and be beneficial to our well being? I have friends but a lot of them are busy with grandchildren, some have already started packing the caravan to take off up north to warmer climes for the winter and others have a routine, as I do, that prevents them from extending our relationship. As with other things it will sort itself out eventually.


I need to feel more comfortable in my home alone so that means I need to make some more changes. I can shut off the front two bedrooms in winter as I don't use them for much except visitors and storage so I don't need them open now. I need to rearrange the area where I watch TV and read and do handcraft as I have all the chairs in a row and it feels like I am waiting for others to come and sit down with me. I may never get over missing Ray being there but I have to put that to the back of my mind and not dwell on it. I probably need to move my phone closer and do a few other small things to make me feel cosier as I sit there. It is a part of a mind set isn't it? A single friend is fascinated with what I am going through as she has never had company so doesn't miss it, just lives in her own space. She says her home is her sanctuary but then she still works so her home is the place she comes back to to relax.


I do find some relief in what I do for the church, visiting the oldies in the nursing homes, talking to people about their needs and helping out at the Markets and Coffee Mornings, the Craft group and Messy Church. Messy Church is always fun as I love the interaction with the children. There is plenty to do but it is sporadic, it is not daily like going to work or coming home to a family. And that is the problem for a lot of us widows and widowers, we miss those closer relationships and long for the days when we were busy and involved in family life. And those days are not coming back.


I talk to other widows and they give me various pieces of advice, a lot are older than me and resigned to being alone. They often have a cat or small dog so maybe I need that. Other friends say not to get a pet as it will tie you down. A relationship I have been thinking about would also tie me down too much. The choice is always between loneliness and freedom isn't it?


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Hi Sue,

It does sound like you need a pet of some sort.  I do find having the cat very beneficial to my mental health. I got her when I first came home from hospital and having to look after her gave me extra motivation for looking after myself, and she was a great physical therapy tool, providing a moving obstacle when I was still getting this walking thing automatic again.  I had not had a pet for many years because of my lifestyle, but I knew that was changing after the stroke anyway and she doesn't tie me down that much. I use an in home cat sitting service when I'm away for more than one night, but it is an extra cost so you don't go into it lightly.


So maybe I'm now a traditional crazy cat lady who talks to the cat as she comes and goes but I can live with that stereotype.  Like your friends I'm happy in my own company although I miss having someone to go out to dinner or a gallery with.




p.s. I'm not a Widow but I do live alone with no partner in the picture


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Yes, my conclusion too.  I will discuss it with my next door neighbour as he had a cat for years which I looked after when he was away.  I don't like to leave a cat alone for too long. I think the nights drawing in now are making me feel more uneasy as I know winter is closer.  I am fine through the day. always seem to find enough to keep me busy.

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Hi Sue,

I think it is a good idea to close the rooms you do not use in winter. Perhaps making a cozy room for yourself will help. In fact if budget will allow, any chages to the room such as pillows, a new recliner,new arrangement of furniture...can signify a fresh beginning, making a space your own can help buffer empty nest feeling according to advice I recieved and tried. I think you have some good ideas. Maybe not leaving empty spaces where furniture or equiptment has been can minimize triggering memories. Look in magazines for ideas then hit thrift stors and flea markets to find interesting useful items. Interesting cozy lighting in a room through use of shades caN cheer up a room for winter. I believe environment contributes very much.

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Pam, brilliant ideas.  Yes. circles of light in winter cam make a difference so I will look for new lamps and as you say change pillows etc.  Thanks for giving it some thought. It makes a difference when someone responds with some new ideas.

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Sue, we have 2 cats and a dog left, and I feel like I just don't want to do any more clean up of vomits, pees and poops.   They are the last.   I would like to get to see our new furniture we bought for this house, instead of the cat hair covered blankets that hide them.   I can't be certain of my life if I were a widow, but I know I'm tired of 'the clean-up' duty, and having to shovel a spot in the snow for the dog to go.


I am really enjoying crafts and it's what I do to keep my mind sharp.    I can get totally wrapped up in what I'm making and lose hours of time, in which I would have been bored (or working - can't work all the tiem, need respite).   I'm trying to learn things I always wanted to learn, but haven't yet.

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