Home Maintenance

In one instant, years of married life became only memories.  I could stand the loneliness, I thought.  And I can.  I can stand anything.  I didn’t know that before, but I do now.  You can, too – it just takes time for a widow to come to this point.

Widowhood is learning how to do your own home maintenance.  I know that lots of married women do maintenance, but it is comforting to still have your man there if you need a helping hand.

Suddenly the home chores can become overwhelming.  Who’s going to do them?  Who’s going to appreciate what you do?  Why bother?

No one ever warned me about the laziness of grief, where I loathed the slightest effort made.  It’s so easy to see why the lonely become untidy and just don’t seem to care.

It’s about making a decision, getting the things done and paying the bills all for something you don’t care as much about any more.  Facing just another problem and facing it alone.  And who cares or even notices?

I’m not telling you to sell.  Running the house by yourself is just one more challenge you face as a single home owner.  It can be done – with tears and yet also with rewards.

Sometimes widows have to move – houses are expensive to keep and maintenance can be overwhelming when grieving.  Maybe the house is too big and enough time has passed to think about what you really want.  If possible don’t make any major decisions for at least a year.  This gives you time to take stock and measure your own abilities and financies.

Maintenance is hard – the neighbourhood may look at a widow as being needy.  You may need someone else’s husband for help, but their wives may resent it or the husband may get the idea that you’re looking for more then just house maintenance.

Staying on in the last home you and your husband shared together has its own kind of comfort.  Moving can be a traumatic experience and should not be taken on too soon.  On the other hand, when and if the time comes to move, it can be like starting a new chapter in your life.

Take your time, though.  Think about it because once sold there is no going back.  So, don’t rush and if the maintenance can’t be done by you, then ask for help from family and friends.  I’m sure that they will be happy to help you for the short term until you get balanced and have a clear vision of what you really want to do.

11 Responses

  1. Judi Welch
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    Yes, my home is old and so much has gone wrong since Tom died suddenly of a stroke 9 months ago. He was my best friend, handyman, companion and the love of my life for 42 years. We were high school sweethearts. I miss him with all my heart, especially now with the Corona virus isolation. It is almost unbearable at times.
    A few days ago my smoke alarm went off and I had to go online to figure out how to change it ! Tom did these things…..but I did it. Getting on the ladder was frightening as I’m over 70. I had no choice. You learn. Stay strong everyone.

    • Mary Francis
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      Thank you Judi for sharing. I think you are amazing at your age to go online to figure out what to do. You are strong.

      • Ashlyn-Rose Flowers
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        I lost my best friend, my protector, my provider, my husband, my everything of 20 years on March 31st 2020. I went from being married and my 3 children ages, 8, 9 and 13 having their father, to being a widow almost overnight.
        It is all so very surreal and I miss him terribly. The emotional pain far outweighs anything. But with my family and my Christian faith to lean on, I can already feel a sense of comfort and assurance that all will be ok. Already I am seeing a strength in me I forgot I had. My focus is soley on my children and in being with them through this grievous time and giving them a life my husband, their father would be proud of. R.I.P my beloved Ken❤

        • Mary Francis
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          Hi Ashlyn-Rose. I can feel your strength in your sharing of your grief. Take care of yourself, because you matter. Mary Francis

  2. Bridget
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    I lost my best friend, sweetheart and husband Fritz of 42 years three years ago. He did all our home maintenance. At first I thought I would sell the house and move to a condo but I am glad I stayed put in our home of 40 years. It is cheaper to stay than rent an expensive apartment. I have learned to do some things, like get up on a small ladder to change A.C. Filters. The hardest was getting 40 pound bags of salt and putting them in the water softener, but I found ways to work around it. When I can’t handle something I hire a handyman service. I don’t have family to help. You can do more than you think you can!

  3. Di
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    I am a “seasoned” widow of 8 1/2 years. Sold my home that my husband and I built in 1980. I moved to a 20 year old condo. All on one floor. I had been seriously looking for something with less maintenance for the last 5 years. The previous condo owners died several years ago. I know that the husband was seriously disabled. Their daughter lived here part time for several years after her parents passed. She did not keep up with the maintenance and I have put a lot of money into new floors, plumbing issues, electrical issues..the list goes on. I still think that I made the right decision. The HOA fees are low and most people are 10 years older than I am. I am 70.

    If Covid-19 happened last year, I don’t think that I would have taken the leap to move.

    A strange, but good thing happened to me in March. I had a piece of land for sale since June and received a good offer after Covid-19 happened. Closing is happening mid May. I think I will put it toward home improvements on my condo.

    • Mary Francis
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      I also live in a condo. You will love it once you get it the way you want it. Take care and be safe. Mary Francis

  4. Mary
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    My husband passed 6/7/20 after being married 33 yrs. and I’m a mess. The thing that frightens me the most is our home. We had finally paid it off and were making plans to finally make some major repairs that we had been putting off. I am afraid I will not be able to afford to repair the items that after 20 yrs need tending to. I miss him so much and I just don’t understand how to go on without him. I keep googling support groups but can’t seem to find any in my area. People have told me God will not give us what we can’t handle, well I might just be over my head, I feel so lost, I need help, I don’t know where to turn and I’M SO SCARED!!!!!!

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      First thing to do is get a clear picture of what you are facing.

      1. Write out a list of each repair needed.

      2. Create four groups –
      $ 100.00 or less
      $ 1,00.00 to $1,000.00
      $ 1,000.00 to $5,000.00
      $5,000.00 and up

      3. What repairs under $100.00 can you or a friend do?

      4. Get at least 2 quotes per each job that you can’t do.

      5. Now list beside each repair the number of years before it has to be done.

      Example – 1 year for painting bedroom but 2 years for new roof.

      6. Now do what you can within the time and money you have.

      This list should be ongoing. List EVERY THING
      Remove from list as repaired.
      Add to list as you see the need.

      Knowing what your facing will help you to make decisions.

      Sorry for your loss. Mary Francis

  5. Joan Sarette
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    I just retired from a full time job at 80 years old. My husband died suddenly 10 years ago. I have been in my house for 42 years. It is my haven. I kept working to save for my retirement because we were not rich. I’ve done a lot by myself, (went on You Tube) put in a new garbage disposal, installed dimmer switches, painted rooms all by myself. I am in the same boat now, Mary Francis. My husband built our house and did any repairs that had to be done, never had to hire anybody. I’m a mess now and also feel lost. I have many things on the exterior that need fixing. I’m afraid my house is going to fall apart. I am having a building inspector come over Friday for help to assess what needs to be done as I don’t have anyone to ask but I’m afraid of what he will say and how much repairs will cost and I don’t know what to do. I only have my retirement funds. Today I am a wreck.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Hi Joan. Deal with one thing at a time. Get his list and apply a cost to each item. Put the list in order of most urgent, least expensive to most expensive. Deal with one item, cross it off your list and then go to the next item. Don’t get overwhelmed by the total cost – just focus on one thing at a time and it will feel more manageable. I have a feeling that you are a very strong and capable lady, so give yourself credit for all the things you have already done.

      Take care and be safe. Mary Francis

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