You can’t help but think about it. Unless the two of you are in a plane crash or something, chances are, one of you is gonna be the last one standing. And, if you’re like me, you don’t know which is worse: dyin’ first, and makin’ your husband go through that trauma, or him goin’ first and bein’ left all by your lonesome to pick up the pieces. Good thing it’s outta our hands, right?
There’s other kinds of leavin’, too, of course. I know from watchin’ my mom go through her cancer journey, your loved one can still be here sittin’ with you, but you’re actively missin’ the healthy person they once were. Same with dementia (or “old timers” as my cousin Mikey calls it). The person you love is with you, but not with you, if you know what I’m saying. Hard, either way.
Then there’s divorce. Lately, I’ve been hearin’ about this more often: people divorcin’ in their fifties and sixties. I guess once the kids have flown the coop, you wake up one day and realize, Whoa! Who is this stranger I’m married to? In short, not quite the future you planned when you walked down the aisle.
Whether your mate dies, gets sick, drifts away or leaves, you’ve suffered a loss, and bottom line: losses have to be grieved. If you don’t take time to do this, believe me, it’ll come back and bite you in the bum. There are no short cuts, here. The only way of gettin’ through grief is to grieve.
What helped me get through the loss of my mother (besides Charlie), was to join a grievin’ group. May not be for everybody, but it worked for me. What’s important, I think, is to no be alone with your grief. Reach out, find someone to talk to. Strength in numbers, my friend.
It’s curious, and not something you really think about in advance, but one of the hardest things about loosing your mate is not being touched. You know, on a daily basis. I’m not talking about sex. I’m referring to the stuff you took for granted when they were around: holding hands, a little peck on the cheek, that gentle touch in the small of your back as you move through a crowd, someone warm beside you in bed. All of a sudden, there may be these long stretches of time when no one touches you. Not good ‘cause your body misses being touched as much as you miss your mate.
The good news is, this is an easy fix. Ladies, make an appointment for a massage. Now, there’s a contact sport I can wrap my head around! Does the thought of getting naked and havin’ a stranger touch you feel too intimate? Have a manicure, pedicure…both. With a mani-pedi, you get the benefit of adding some color to your life. Freshly painted fingers and toes can really perk you up. Or, get your hair done. Nothin’ like havin’ someone wash your hair, right? Maybe it’s even time for a new do. Remember what my mother used to say, “Look good, smell good, feel good.”
Guys, OK, you’re probably not gonna want to go all metro-sexual on me and do a spa day. But you can splurge and go to a barber who’ll wash your hair and maybe give you a shave. You know, with that hot towel on your face and everything? Heck, go the whole nine yards. Get your eyebrows trimmed (nose and ears, too, if they’ll do it). Getting spiffed up will raise your spirits. You may even score an extra casserole or two from all them widows waitin’ in the wings!
Or, how ‘bout this: take dancin’ lessons! I don’t care what kind of music. You’ll meet new people, stumble around a bit together, touch and be touched, and have fun. What the heck!
Being touched isn’t goin’ to make life go back to how it used to be, but it’ll certainly help you feel a little better. Promise!
That’s it for now. Catch you on the flip side!
April 28: A Visit With Ida, Spectrum Generations Volunteer Recognition Event, 2:00 p.m., Hallowell, ME
May 26: Book Reading Finding Your Inner Moose, Old Town Public Library, 11:00 a.m., Old Town, ME
May 26: Book Reading Finding Your Inner Moose, Pittsfield Public Library, 6:00 p.m., Pittsfield, ME