Today is a weepy day for me. The clock has not yet struck noon and tears have already touched my cheeks numerous times. My daughter and her children have now left Texas. They have arrived at their new home in our nation’s capital. She and my grandchildren were reunited with my son-in-law after a five-month coronavirus imposed separation. I am so happy for them, yet my heart misses them immensely. My husband is there with them. He traveled there to help them get everything properly settled. They have been gone for nearly a week. My husband will fly home tonight. I will drive up to the Texarkana Airport after work and we will go out to dinner before returning home. I can’t wait to see him. I have really missed him.
Being alone this past week has presented a unique opportunity for me to contemplate many things. Not the least of which has been that of being alone. I have thought of the time my mother has spent over the past 35 years by herself. Although she is not a widow, my father has chosen to spend his time elsewhere. My mother has chosen to spend her time alone. She has suffered greatly because of her decision. Her health physically and mentally has deteriorated at warp speed. Her cognitive skills and quality of life are significantly diminished and her children worry that her life span has been shortened due to her great heartache.
Likewise, my son-in-law suffered greatly during the five months of quarantine imposed upon him through his military transfer freeze. During that time, his household goods were taken away from him, yet he was mandated to remain within the confines of an empty house. His children and wife could not survive without furniture, pots and pans, clothing, or food, so my husband and I brought them to Texas to stay with us. Unfortunately, as Hawaii was under total lockdown, my son-in-law remained alone, without even a TV for entertainment for five months. In my opinion, being locked down under such circumstances, without companionship, entertainment, nor any other type of stimulation, can cause health risks as well.
I have been home by myself since Sunday. Today is Thursday. I have had my i-pad, my i-phone, six open funeral cases, my funeral home staff, my smart TV, and my lap poodle to keep me company. These past five days have seemed like an eternity of emptiness to me. My appetite has suffered, of course, that is a positive, but everything that brings me joy is suspended. At night, after everyone has gone home, I sit by myself, wondering what to do. I have no one to chat with, no one to laugh with, no one to interact with. I have contemplated this extensively and I have realized that to me, what matters in life, are the people I love, not the things around me. I don’t care about expensive cars or clothes. I don’t care about going out to expensive restaurants, or the theatre. I don’t need an expensive vacation at a theme park, to fly over to Europe, or go to the beach. What I need are my family and a few close friends. That’s it for me.
So what do I do if I come to a place in life where I’m alone for more than five days? What if I find that I have to keep myself company for five months, or heaven forbid, thirty-five years like my mother? I don’t know that I could survive that.
I have friends who are widows. Some of them have been alone between five months and five years. Others, between five years and thirty-five years. Some are beyond that mark. How have they survived? How have they adapted?
It is interesting. I have spoken with many of my widowed friends. Each of them says the same thing to me when I ask them about this. They say that they don’t want to go through life single and alone; neither do they want to remarry. It seems that they feel that remarrying would disrespect their original marriage, however, they understand that to not be alone, they need to remarry. It seems a catch twenty-two and as time goes by, remarriage never materializes for them. Each has filled their lives with activities for assisting others; mainly those in need, their children, or their grandchildren, also volunteering. Nothing at all wrong with that. If you think about it, that’s sort of what we do as a married couple as we age. Our lives move toward assisting others, or spending time with others once we retire. Mainly, because we have extra time on our hands. We spend time with our children and grandchildren, helping out at the rec centers in our neighborhoods, or church, volunteering at the hospitals, nursing homes, senior centers, or at other places. Life has its patterns whether we are married or single. I, for one, prefer it being married.
It is important to realize that when we are faced with time alone, especially when it is going to be a permanent or potentially permanent situation, we need to make accommodations for it. To successfully adjust to solitude or grief, we must give of ourselves. We must serve others. We cannot sit night after night watching TV or surfing our i-pads or smartphones for entertainment. Fulfillment is not obtained through the things we buy or do for ourselves, it is received by doing things and giving of ourselves to others.
My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a Certified Grief Counselor (GC-C), Funeral Director (FDIC), published author, syndicated columnist, and co-founder of the “Mikey Joe Children’s Memorial” and Heaven Sent, Corp. I write books, weekly bereavement articles, and Grief BRIEFs related to understanding and coping with grief. I am the American Funeral Director of the Year Runner-Up and recipient of the BBB’s Integrity Award.
It is my life’s work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
For additional encouragement, read other articles or watch video “Grief Briefs,” please go to my website at https://www.queencityfuneralhome.com/pushing-up-daisies-blog.
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