Suddenly Single

Finding yourself suddenly single is a dreadful business – for anyone, at any age. Well, unless it’s by choice (you leave, or maybe murder your partner). Even then, I suspect it’s no picnic. But if you are ‘older’, and looking forward to spending those last years in the company of your life partner, it can be particularly challenging.

I was suddenly widowed. Three years ago, my partner died in his sleep – no warning: here today, gone tomorrow.

I won’t go on about how painful that was (crying all over a laptop, not the best idea). However, such a loss fundamentally alters one’s universe – and is often accompanied by:

  • Profound grief
  • Uncontrolled sobbing
  • Disorientation, wandering about in a daze
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loneliness
  • Brittleness, which makes one move tentatively for fear of cracking
  • Confusion, lack of confidence, lack of motivation
  • A glazed look
  • Desire to avoid other people, especially in grocery stores, so as not to see their faces crumple in sympathy, or go blank with shock/horror that they might have to say something
  • Hysteria
  • Drinking and other bad habits

You get the idea (or you’ve lived it and unfortunately know what I mean). Reads rather like the side effects of a drug, right? And it is, no doubt, an incomplete list.

Immediately after the death of a loved one, you go through the motions, make the myriad arrangements, put one foot in front of the other. I had an amazing community of friends, relations, and loving (if devastated) children who came, grieved, provided support and help. I am forever grateful to them all.

But then everyone returned to their lives and I was alone. Not just at sea, but drowning, because I had no plan for this.

It would surely be worse to be deserted/dumped after thirty years than have a partner die. How could one avoid taking that personally, feeling not just lonely but rejected? There are no rituals to comfort the deserted, it is more private, and the grief would be just as intense.

Fortunately, the rawness of grief does fade with time. It becomes possible to envision (if grumpily) a different kind of life. Eventually one can stop sobbing and ranting, get up off the floor, and think about writing a blog, for example.

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