My husband passed away, and suddenly I was living alone for the first time 111



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Until about four years ago, I had never lived by myself. Learning to be alone without feeling lonely has been a challenge for me, but over time I have slowly adjusted.

I was married at the age of 20, and before that I lived with my mum, dad and sister. When I married Robert, we started our home together so I essentially went from living with my parents, to living with a husband.

Robert and I had a wonderful life together. He was a carpenter, and I was a medical receptionist. We worked hard to save money, built a small house and eventually welcomed our son Greg and daughter Lisa into the world.

Together, Robert, Greg and Lisa created a home filled with noise, laughter, baking, much-loved pets, music and family. Looking back, I realise these years were some of the best of my life.

Our eldest Greg grew up, as all children do, and went interstate to study dentistry. Lisa started work in childcare, and before I knew it, she’d fallen in love and “left the nest” as well.

After 20 years of child-rearing, Robert and I only had each other for company once again. They were lovely times though. We’d go for walks on the beach, tended our garden together and cooked for two.

This slower pace lasted for about six years, until Robert was diagnosed with prostate cancer. For most men, prostate cancer doesn’t pose a life threat, but Rob’s was too far advanced when it was caught…

We struggled along with surgery, and then later he had chemotherapy. The kids came home to visit, and Robert did get to meet his first-ever grandchild, Harry. Seeing his legacy in Harry was an untold joy for Rob.

After 18 tough months, my darling husband – the love of my life – passed away. We surrounded his hospital bed, and my heart broke as he took his final breaths.

I just couldn’t believe Rob was leaving me at age 66. There was still so much life left in Robert, more grandchildren to arrive, more holidays to take. Even now his loss still makes me ache.

The funeral came with lots of support from family and friends. My neighbours cooked dinners for me, former co-workers sent flowers. Over time though, life for those people returned to normal.

Then I was in a house alone, for the first time ever. My kitchen felt empty, the lounge room was silent and my bedtimes were the loneliest.

How was I going to cope with living on my own, after a lifetime of living either with my parents, husband or children? It was a rough journey.

The first thing I learnt was cooking for one. Even though I missed those big family meals, cooking just for myself meant I could eat all my favourite foods, and try new recipes too.

I suddenly had so much more free time, and even though I hated that at first, I eventually decided to make the best of it. I took up scrapbooking, which helped me relive beautiful memories and kept me busy too.

I added lots of cushions to my bed to help fill the void Robert had left, and got into a habit of buying new CDs to play in the house for background music.

Greg and Lisa still visit every six months or so. Harry is growing up, and now he has a little sister named Charlotte too. She is delightful! These family visits mean the world to me.

During one of their visits, the kids told me to “treat myself”, so I bought some scented candles and a colourful artwork to make my home feel a bit warmer again. I even got a budgerigar named Singer, who I adore!

Being alone, without feeling lonely, also encouraged me to become a better friend. My house now plays host to more high teas and ladies’ lunches than ever before, and these brighten my days.

Living independently has been a challenge for sure, but the trick is to stay active and keep busy. I will miss Robert for the rest of my life, but it’s important not to let grief get the better of you. Now is the time to do whatever you please, or try those hobbies you never had time for in the past.

In the future, I might sell our family home and move into a retirement community.  For now though, life is too short and too wonderful to become crippled by loneliness.

How do you live alone, without feeling lonely? Can you relate to this woman’s experiences? What advice can you offer her?


Starts at 60 Writers

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  1. I lost my husband just over 3 years ago and I know how she’s feeling. I now have my daughter living here with me but I still get so lonely it hurts. She also lost her husband.

  2. Sadly at 40 years old and 20 years with my love was then left with 2 beautiful young boys
    We knew lifecwould never be the same ever.It is not the aloneness but the sadness in particular what my sons have missed with their growing up years. I am now 69 still working 1 day per week have never gone into another relationship as I was too busy. I am able to have a great life even though it is not what I wanted but you can do it Love Life xxxx

  3. I was slightly different like you I left home where I had lived with brothers and sister to get married, at 21 my first child arrived 11months later, 2nd 13 months after that 3rd 13 months later and 4th 3 and half years later. 2 years after that we moved my husband became ill and after 12 and a half years of marriage with four young children he lost his battle with bowel cancer and at 33 I was single. Like you family and friends rallied around but soon got on with their own lives. I put all my time and effort into raising 4 children the way my dear husband would wish. Then 1 by 1 the three girls left for uni my boy still was home working locally then came the weddings and finally I was left by myself. I worked long days as a drafter then CAD operator up until at 67 I was forced to retire. The house was empty friends of both my husband and I had dropped off because most wives don’t want young widows near their husbands or they were going out as couples and I had to stay with children. I did have a few disasterous relationships along the way and many so called male friends who wanted to be of sexual assistance while their wives were busy with family commitments (which I declined) so at 67 after 32 years with one company was free of full time committment. The house in which I had eaten and slept in now was my full time home. I joined groups to keep me active I have hobbies and I spend time with my children 9 of my grandchildren living in Australia. I have moved on and am enjoying the single life

  4. My husband Robert passed away 5 years ago he was only 58 we were together 40 years I know what she is feeling but you go on living

  5. It’s hard but eventually I learnt to cope. I needed to learn to shop for one, cook for one, teach myself new skills for jobs my husband normally did which I now do. I found some friendships changed along with my circumstances. I’ve kept myself busy with work and other interests. I’m content now and have learnt to be totally independent.

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