Help From Your Children

My feeling is that being widowed late in life has a much greater impact on everyone than most people realize. The truth is that being widowed at any age is a major life event and it can be even harder for older women, because their marriage is more likely to have been long standing.

Psychologically it can symbolize the end of childhood as the family structure has changed. Your child may look at the loss of a parent as a sudden and overwhelming responsibility for them to become your caregiver. Your children need to reflect on their own life circumstances and their obligations to their own immediate family before the jump in to try to assist you.

The temptation for any devoted child will be to rush in to fill the void but in doing so, they may create expectations down the road about their availability that can lead to disappointment, frustration and guilt. They need to think carefully about how much time they have to offer.

Often all you need is room to express your feelings and have them simply be there to listen. While this may seem like a role reversal from how you used to listen to them, it’s the best initial form of support they can offer you.

They need to follow your lead as to how much time you want to be left alone and when to help you get involved in new activities, if that’s where your heart takes you.

Other people can be recruited as part of your “social life” so that you are not dependent on just your children. This is often the time when you will reconnect with the hobbies and passions of your youth. You need to let your children know that you are not looking for them to become your “surrogate spouse”, you just want them to be there for when you need them with hugs and unconditional love. Just as you were there for them when they were younger.

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