These tips for starting over when you’re over 60 won’t solve all the problems that arise when your husband dies, but they’ll help you see you’re not alone.
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?
By taking it one moment at a time. And, by holding on to the hope that it’s never to late to start over. Here’s a quip from Jane Fonda:
“It’s never too late – never too late to start over, never too late to be happy.”
If you’re struggling to cope with life after your husband’s death, read Widow To Widow: Thoughtful, Practical Ideas For Rebuilding Your Life.
Here’s what one reader said about that book: “I lost my husband of four years to cancer recently…this was the second time widowed for me. My first husband died ten years ago, and I wish this book had been available to me then! Although I was familiar with all the feelings, thoughts and social anomalies that occur during widowhood, seeing them put on paper and knowing I was not losing my mind is slowly helping me put my life back in order.”
Reading books can help you cope after your husband dies, but support groups are better! I’ve been facilitating support groups through my practicum, and am awed by the power of support groups to help people cope and heal.
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.
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 again
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.
Be aware of your loved ones’ grief
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.
If your loved ones have retreated into their grief, read When Your Spouse Withdraws Because of Grief – 5 Ways to Stay Close. It’s not just about connecting with spouses – it’s for all loved ones.
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.
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.
And one of my favorite quotations about 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.
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.
I welcome your thoughts on being 60 and starting over after your husband dies. Please comment below. Sharing your story can help you clarify your thoughts and feelings, which will help you heal.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.