Living Columns & Blogs

Packet Sea Foam: With loss, make time to grieve, but also time to go out and live

Thanks to Pat Coates of Bluffton for sharing her thoughts on recovering after the loss of a spouse. She is responding to an essay shared two weeks ago on the same topic.


By Pat Coates

David Kerins' article on grief brought up some strong emotions and feelings about the first couple of years of my widowhood.

When you live with someone for 60 years, it is a terrible loss. But there is life after death. It's just different. He is very fortunate to live in a wonderful place like Sun City where there are friendly people, and many activities and facilities to actually help you get on with your life.

I am widowed since 1994 and I have tried all the avenues of healing. I joined and met many men who wanted to marry, but they were not right. I did have a friend here for two years, but he also died. He was a wonderful Christian man but in his 80s and he had a hip replacement and died. He was the icing on the cake because I had a good marriage for 43 years. He had been married for 51 years. We were two peas in a pod. We were so alike and had some fun times together.

I just lost my oldest son to melanoma cancer. He was an architect who left a young widow and two children, ages 19 and 15. Kevin is going to be an architect also. He said, "I wish Dad were here; he could help me with my studies."

Loss is never easy.

I have many friends that I have cultivated through the years, and a fabulous church that is there for me. Somehow you fill in the hours with positive activities and get on with it. The grief recovery session I took helped me a lot. I couldn't even have pictures around because it hurt too much. Now I do, and I remember wonderful times and memories.

But you can't live forever on memories. At some point you have to make a new life for yourself. It is not easy. I don't mind eating alone now. I love to cook and have friends over. I'm sure for a man it's different. I think the secret is to find something you really like to do and meet others who have the same interests and do things together. I had a dance partner for three years. He married a nice lady and they have a lot in common. My point is, you can enjoy life alone. You reach out in love and smile.

In fact, it's better if you are a man. It's a smorgasbord. There are probably 100 single women to one man. Casserole heaven.

It takes time to adjust, and even if you just make one decision to join something or get involved with a special group, it's progress.

Single elderly people do have a lot to offer.

At our church there is a wonderful group of men who do food bank volunteering, and I know they get together for Bible studies. Everyone needs that support group to talk to.

The lonely and lost place will slowly get better if you really reach out in love.

Yes, families are wonderful, but they have their lives, and we have ours. I wouldn't worry too much about what they think. We have to do what we have to do to heal.

Man's search for meaning does not stop as we get older; we just have to try a little harder and make some real effort to be whole again.

I know some people get divorced and move on, some men leave their wives, and some of our spouses die. God gives us the strength and courage to move on.

I Timothy 6:18-19 says, "Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we could ever manage -- to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be extravagantly generous. If they do that they'll build a treasury that will last, a foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."

It is also OK to grieve, but we must move on. I just finished writing a book, and have other fun activities. Sometimes I go alone, sometimes with a good friend.

I am blessed. And God knows my heart and will take care of me until it's my time to go also. I enjoy the Jazz Corner Dixieland band music. I sometimes sit at the bar at Frankie Bones, where there are other singles. I have many favorite places now and love to chat. People respond. Life is good; not great, but good.

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