Separating late in life, usually, after a long marriage or relationship, could be the hardest decision you’ll ever have to make. It usually follows a period of extreme ups and downs of emotions, and the thought of starting all over at this stage of your life is overwhelming.
And yet, whilst in this state of emotional turmoil, there are so many practical considerations you would need to make before making the final decision. Figuring out new living arrangements, dealing with finances and possibly current or potential future health issues, are some of the harsh realities of separating in your 60s that must be considered, making the decision process even harder.
Couples over 60 are making the decision to separate more so now than ever before. The reasons can be numerous. Perhaps there is less stigma attached to divorce these days, or people have just grown apart and are not content to spend their precious last few years in a loveless relationship anymore. Perhaps people are bolder now and not afraid of facing life as a single person in their golden years.
The decision sometimes takes years of hard thinking and deep soul searching, but it often takes one fleeting moment when the penny drops and you suddenly know you are ready to make that final decision to separate.
Once you have made your decision to separate, you’ll be faced with a myriad of seemingly daunting tasks that lie ahead. List them in order of importance and deal with them, one step at a time.
The legalities alone may seem like one huge mountain to climb so deal with that first. Weigh your options on how to separate. Do you want to divorce through the Family Court or through family mediation?
It may also be the right time to rethink what you want out of life and start working out your priorities. You may find them to be vastly different to what they were in the past.
Even before the legal process gets underway, it’s a good idea to start planning for your future needs. Take stock of what you’ve got and what you may end up with after the separation, possible earnings or retirement income, future living arrangements and expenses. This will give you a fair idea of where you stand.
Once your head is clear, start putting your plans into action – the sooner the better. Much will depend on your current age, health and financial situation. If you find yourself needing extra income and you’re able to work, consider looking for a part-time job, not only to supplement your income but also to also make new friends and keep your mind and body active.
No matter what your financial situation was prior to separation, expect at least some degree of change to your finances when separating late in life.
Some major lifestyle adjustments may be needed, but there will also be a mountain of paperwork to be done. All insurance policies should be reviewed and your will and any directives should be updated. Joint bank accounts will need to be separated as well.
Having addressed all the legalities and practicalities of your separation, you still need to consider the emotional side too. That often proves to be a far more difficult task for many elderly divorcees. Pay special attention to these emotions and don’t push them away – this can make the process much more difficult to deal with later on.
Coping with your emotions after a traumatic event is not going to be easy.
There are going to be tons of emotions to deal with – from anger, loneliness, disappointment, anxiety, fear and depression, all the way through to relief, acceptance, happiness, peace, and beyond.
The key is to find strategies to help you deal with each type of emotion as you experience it – some are fleeting and easy to process, but others may require time out, support from friends and family, and a range of other coping mechanisms like journaling, meditation, spending time in nature, and exercise.
We all have our own way of coping with our emotions, so much of course will depend on you and the people you have around you.
Having a support network is key to coping with your emotions, especially in difficult times.
There has never been a better time to lean on your friends and family than right now. Whatever you do, do not isolate yourself. Try to remain socially active and go out to meet new friends. There are many people out there in a similar situation – and you can help each other through them.
Self-care is vital in dealing with any traumatic event. Avoid consuming excessive alcohol, and junk foods, staying inactive and delving too much in the past. Eat right, exercise as often as you can, and try to focus and do things that make you happy.
Indulge yourself in something you always wanted to do. Reconnect with an old friend, take that trip or start a new hobby.
There is always life after separation, even after 60!
If you’re finding any aspect of your separation difficult to cope with, remember there is no need to do this on your own. Friends, family, legal advisors, financial planners and personal advisors are easily found at the click of a button these days. Don’t hesitate to seek their assistance.
Despite these extra considerations when separating in your 60s, you shouldn’t let this dictate whether you choose to separate or not. Separating at any age has its challenges, but you need to do what is right for you at the time, and not feel like you have to stay or go.