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February 12, 2021

How to Grieve the Loss of a Loved One Later in Life.

It is true that, in most countries, life expectancy increases every year.

In 2020, life expectancy for a male is 70 years and a woman is 73 years. Across the globe, women are expected to live about three years longer than men. It is up for great debate the reason for this.

Modern medicine in our society is designed to prolong human life at almost all costs. The practice of medicine has been improving due to lots of practice. Therefore, people are living longer, healthier lives, and we have the ability to extend the lives of those who are unhealthy.

The fact is that people are living a better quality of life today and women often outlive their husbands or partners. This is no more apparent than at a health care facility or home for the elderly. In these facilities, there are far more women, and the few men seem to have suffered more from the ravages of time.

Couples who are lucky enough to still have a loving partner late in life have been given a gift—the luxury of time spent with the one they love. But like most luxuries in life, they have earned it. Staying in a loving, committed relationship involves love, sacrifice, and patience. It is not for the faint of heart, and one needs to be able to withstand and endure the hard times.

The later part of life should be a time of relaxation, revelation, and retirement. The children are up and grown with children of their own, a career is a thing of the past, and there is ample time to reminisce and relax. This is the final chapter of the “American Dream.”

We’ve worked hard our whole life, educated and launched our grown children into the world, and we’ve planned and saved enough money to live out our final days, ideally, with our spouse or partner by our side.

Women later in life are often faced with the death of their loved one. This is not an easier life-altering transition to go through at 85 than it is at 45. The pain and loss are the same, and perhaps, the additional time together makes it even harder to bear. For older women, in some ways, the loss is more alienating due to a lack of friends. Women, perhaps, have fewer friends to turn to if they have moved or because their friends have passed too.

In the global world we live in today, more and more people don’t live near their grown children and grandchildren. This can leave a widow feeling alone, scared, and depressed.

There are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not everyone goes through every stage, and some take longer to grieve than others. People experience these stages in many different ways, and there is no right or wrong way to go about it.

My concern is that women today need to fully go through this process—it’s imperative that they do.

Society today moves at a fast pace, and older people are swept up in this too. I highly recommend for women living in senior housing or communities to seek out other widows or support groups. These two suggestions can provide a safe, loving environment for women going through the same thing.

Healing occurs when we engage with people who can truly understand. Expressing our feelings to people who understand and acknowledge them will be incredibly healing. Having a safe place to share with each other our thoughts lets us know that we are not alone.

Life, in many ways, feels like a long journey made up of seasons. Some seasons are long and some are short. I am sure that there is a divine purpose for all of them. People come and go in our lives—some stay for a lifetime, some only for a season. Never is it harder to accept a loss than with a special someone whose mere presence made our lifetime or season worth living.

When they are gone, we are left with memories, perhaps children, and the absence of what made life worth living. Through grief and acceptance, we finally get the courage to start a new season either alone or with someone new. Thus, the cycle of life continues, although it might be a bittersweet one—it’s the best we can do.

~

 

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