Here’s another tale – a sad one, I’m afraid – from the retirement belt.
At a recent neighborhood party at our home, a friend of a friend was about 30 minutes late. Not too late, really, but my friend Dan was very concerned.
I asked what the problem was and he explained that the missing guest had recently lost her husband of 46 years and wasn’t doing well. Dan was concerned she might do something stupid.
Dan went up to the beach to look for her and I went in the other direction toward a nearby riverfront park.
Thankfully, it was a false alarm. But when she finally arrived, she said, “It’s been a bad day. I need a drink.”
One of the least attractive aspects of aging is the reality that one spouse or partner will check out first, leaving the other to go on alone.
And it’s a tough road for the one who’s left.
In this case, her husband was also her first and only boyfriend. I can’t imagine losing a spouse or partner after 46 years.
It happens every day, I know. But as I watched her try to step up to the plate that night, I couldn’t help but wonder who else was there to help besides her children and close friends.
I was told his funeral was overflowing with concerned and caring friends and family, but then what? She was doing her best… but I could feel the pain from across the room.
And as I looked around the room, I realized every couple there would go through this. As the boomers age, the number of people having “really bad days” will skyrocket.
And these bad days are very real. A surviving spouse has a 66% greater chance of dying within three months following the death of their mate, and the suicide rate among seniors is 24% higher than it is in the general U.S. population.
If you have made it through the loss of a spouse and can share your experiences about what helped ease the pain, or if you know any support resources for the one left behind, please comment here.
This story really hit home, and I’d like to share whatever help you can offer.
The good news is there appears to be a lot of resources out there to help. Most of what I have read indicates that things get better, but it takes time. And you have to reach out. That’s not easy for everyone.
Here are a couple resources to help you get started.
Sorry for the sad tone this week. Losing a loved one is another hard fact about getting older.