After being one-half of a couple for decades, those who find themselves single again after age 55, can face incredible loneliness and despair. Whether it is because of death of a spouse or divorce, starting over again alone can cause overwhelming anxiety.
Everyone deals with their grief in their own way. Many find that meeting with others who are also suffering through a loss, is a help. Others find time with family is a way to cope, while others spend hours alone dealing with their sorrow.
It takes time to adjust to the absence of a long-time partner in any situation, but there will eventually come a time when the sadness lifts and an individual is ready to enjoy social activities again. They realize that they may have 15-20 years of life left to live. Many times the friends that they currently have are married or having moved to a new city to be close to family, but knowing no-one else, can be isolating.
I have met many individuals in my work that are in the very beginning stages of this process. When I first meet with them, you can see the sadness in their eyes and tone as they discuss their partner who is no longer with them. But, at the same time, I see the willingness and desire to begin their life again while no longer being part of a couple. Whether because of a death or divorce, they are trying to reinvent themselves alone, after 55.
This is where the courage comes in.
How many remember having to do something for the first time and the anxiety that comes with it? If you are on the shy or introverted side, it makes it even harder. Did you ever have to move and start a new school where you did not know anyone? Or, how about going away to college or starting a new job where you were all alone? Who will I talk to? Will everyone be friends and I will be ignored? Will they like me? Do I know how to act in this new environment?
Add those types of fears onto someone who is older, who is attempting to make new friends and engage in life without their “other half” for the first time in many, many years.
It is much easier to stay home and feel safe, wrapped in the memories of the partner who they are living without. It takes courage to do what is necessary to go on.
I have seen time after time how difficult it is the first time one of my Silver Connections members attends their first event. How easy it would be to turn away and just leave! They consider it, they begin to turn back, but they don’t.
In spite of the fear and the anxiety, they know it is time. They will never forget the memories of the past or the person they shared such a large part of their life with. They put their hand on the door, open it, and with courage….begin to take the first steps to live life again.