Starting Over in Your 60s – After Your Husband Dies
Support, comfort, connection. These ideas for starting over when you’re over 60 won’t solve all your problems after your husband dies, but they’ll help you see you’re not alone.
In I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One, Brook Noel and Pamela Blair offer hope and comfort, support and solace for widows who are starting over after their husband’s death. If you’re facing the challenge of being a widow, here is is a hand to hold. It’s written by two women who have experienced sudden loss, who provide survivors with a rock-steady anchor from which to weather the storm of pain and begin to rebuild their lives.
Reading books can help you cope after your husband dies, but support groups might be more effective. They offer in-person comfort and connection through the grief process after a loved one dies. I’ve been facilitating support groups through my practicum, and am awed by the power of support groups to help people cope and heal. If you haven’t visited a support group for widows, I encourage you to consider one now.
One of the most important tips for starting over in your 60s (or at any age) is to take it one moment at a time. And, hold on to the hope that it’s never to late to start over. “It’s never too late – never too late to start over, never too late to be happy,” says Jane Fonda.
Here are a few tips for starting over and rebuilding your life after the death of your husband.
Starting Over in Your 60s – After Your Husband Dies
Remember that everyone processes grief differently. Some people retreat, others reach out. Some people change everything about their lives – they move, go back to school, travel, or quit their jobs. Others want everything to stay exactly the same. If you’re starting over in your 60s, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to spend the next half of your life.
You were part of a couple for so long, and now he’s gone. How do you start over when you’re 60 years old and have depended on him for so much? If you’re struggling financially, read How to Start Over When You Need Money.
Make a list of things that make life worthwhile
After your husband dies, you may feel that nothing matters and nothing makes life worthwhile. Death has a funny way of making life inconsequential.
But, if you want to start over and be a happy, fulfilled woman in your 60s, you need to figure what will make the rest of your life the best of your life.
“I had to ask myself what makes life meaningful after the death of my little boy and the impending demise of my daughter,” says writer and editor Lori Chidori Philips. “Learning, exploring my inner and outer world has been very helpful. Life is a grand and glorious experience, and I liken my life to strolling through a sunny meadow, gathering wildflowers of experiences to take back with me. Knowing that the good, the bad and the ugly all serve a purpose in expanding my awareness makes life meaningful to me, no matter what happens.”
It all serves a purpose – even the death of your husband, after years of marriage. If you’re struggling to start over, read 5 Things That Make Life Meaningful – Beyond Having Children.
Connect with other women in their 60s who are starting over
I wrote this article because a reader left this comment on Help for Widows and Widowers – A Story of Loss, Survival, and Peace:
“Since my husband died, I feel very incomplete. I was with him for 30 years and we did everything together. I feel like I lost my identity. It’s not like I haven’t tried to feel good, but it just doesn’t feel right. starting over again in my 60s. I never thought this would happen to me. I feel so alone. My husband did everything for me and now I have the responsibility of running it all. It seems impossible. I miss him a lot.”
If you see yourself in those comments, remember that you don’t have to start over alone! Most things are worse when you’re alone, especially if you’re in your 60s and have lost a husband you loved and lived with for decades.
One of the best ways to start over when your husband dies – whether you’re 68 or 28 – is to connect with women who are going through the same thing. Don’t tackle life alone. Get support from widows who understand what you’re going through, who are starting their lives over too. And, after your husband dies, you may forget that you’re not the only one grieving. Sometimes it’s healthier to focus on your own mourning and healing, and other times it’s better to reach out and help others with their grief. What’s best for you? It depends on your personality, lifestyle, and loved ones.
Remember that your obstacles are your life
“For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin-real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.” ~ Alfred D’Souza.
Your obstacles are your life.
One of my favorite books on starting over and This Is Not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down. Four women wrote this book – they’ve dealt with starting over, husbands dying, businesses failing, children leaving, and illness threatening. They figured out how to start over and create new lives when their old ones died.
For additional support in coping with your husband’s death and starting over, visit Dr Therese Rando’s Coping With Sudden Death article. Here’s a tip that I found very helpful:
“You may feel a profound loss of security and confidence in the world [after your husband dies]. After all, you have been taught a dramatic lesson: Loved ones can be snatched away without warning. You may always await another loss to befall. Research has shown that widows whose husbands died suddenly are slower to move toward remarriage, since they are unwilling to risk future unanticipated loss again for themselves and their children. Avoidance and anxiety eventually can lead to states of anxious withdrawal since the world has become such a frightening, unpredictable place.”
Dr Rando offers a great deal of support, and has even written a book about coping with death and starting over.
One of my most popular articles is How to Let Go of Someone You Love. Read it, and you’ll see you’re not alone.
I welcome your thoughts on being 60 and starting over after your husband dies. Please comment below; I can’t offer advice or counseling, but sharing your story can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings, which will help you heal.
May God fill you with His peace and joy.