If You are Newly 60 & Single: by Julia Anderson
"I wanted to be an independent woman, a woman who could pay for her bills, a woman who could run her own life - and I became that woman" - Diane von Furstenberg - American fashion designer (1946 - )
There is so much going on in our '60s,
Elderly parents may need our assistance. Or they may die. Children may struggle.
Our own careers are winding down but we're not sure how we will handle retirement, financially or emotionally.
In our '60s, some of us will end up on our own because of the death of a spouse or an unexpected divorce.
Either way, being 60 and single is a adjustment, especially if you've enjoyed a long and rewarding relationship.
In my circle of women friends, I've seen five lose their husbands to cancer and another to divorce. Another faces the trials of a husband with Parkinson's Disease, a dreadful and debilitation affliction. Another's husband is in the early stages of Alzheimer's.
I've seen women struggle through the adjustment to single hood, but regain their footing and move on with rewarding lives...some decidedly single, others in new relationships.
No one can rush the transition. And in the dark of night being newly 60 and single is tough. For me, late night television became my friend.
I hated it when people told me it would just take time. That's because I was living minute to minute with the pain, working hard to get through the pain, the loss and (in my case) the anger from an unwanted divorce. I learned a lot about grief, about day-to-day coping and about recovery. If you are newly 60 and single here are survival tips gleaned from personal experience and research on the topic:
- Stay in your job. Going to work every day gets your mind off the loss and the worry, keeps you centered in a place where you can be a mature adult making a contribution in the moment.
- Find a good therapist who can help you work through your grief and sort out the future. Sometimes that future must evolve as you come to terms with reality. Friends or your doctor can give you recommendations. This is especially important if abandonment is an issue.
- Seek out a spiritual life. Explore what others have to say about the reality of the human experience...sadness, joy and the wonder of our existence in this beautiful world. Take time for the quiet. This grief, this pain brings us closer to the unknowable universe, to God, to the suffering of others.
- Gather friends around you who understand that you need to talk about the person that you lost, your feelings, about the future. Find friends who understand and can just listen. Advice is not so important as listening as you may need to cover the same ground over and over.
- Cry with your eyes open, not shut. Let the grief flow out rather than internalizing it.
- Keep a journal of your most personal thoughts. Get creative.
- Make exercise a part of your daily routine. A 30-minute jog can make all the difference in how you see the world. Gloom can be overcome by the good chemicals that come with physical exercise.
- If you are struggling with depression, lack of sleep and are beginning to lose your grip, consider seeing your physician. Ask about anti-depressant medication. It can make the difference between unending desperate suffering and a steady recovery.
- Talk with a fee-only investment adviser about your financial future. Or run the numbers with a trusted friend. Ask yourself what your retirement will look like, where the money will come from and your debts, cost-of-living expenses. The more you find out, the better you can plan and the more confident you will be.
- Don't give money to your kids. You've got to take care of yourself, first. Until you're money issues are settled, sit tight.
- Be nice to yourself. Get a massage. Eat well. Rent movies that make you laugh. Call your friends if you get blue. I longed to be touched. A massage was not the same as a relationship but it helped.
- Let the person that you've lost be in your heart but don't let them undermine the love you now have to give to others. Find ways to love those in your life in the moment, here and now. Work at it.
- Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Never be afraid to ask for help along the way from those who care about you.
- All the best....Julia