Since we have lived here at Village at Deaton Creek, we have noticed many happily married couples, walking hand in hand along Deaton Creek Parkway. Couples, many of which have been married a long time, are having the times of their lives, enjoying life and one another’s company, more than they had an opportunity to do in a long time.
Here, as in other active adult communities, there is a large number of happy singles, also equally enjoying life. You can tell by their smiling faces, always on the go, many times with other singles in outings, activities and travel. Enjoying life like that first time they were off to college to to camp as a kid.
But making the transition from being married a long time to being single again has to be one of the hardest things imaginable. Getting a divorce is hard enough, but losing a spouse to death has to be the hardest and most devastating thing to happen to residents of a community like ours.
We have only been here for a year and a half, but I know of 4 spouses and a couple of singles who have died. Two of the spouses were married to friends of mine for 30 plus and 50 plus years respectfully. Today I am going to the Celebration of Life for one of them.
What don’t you say to someone who just lost their spouse to death?
What sounds like good advice is what not to say, including:
1. I know how you feel (no you don’t)
2. At least they lived a long time, many people die young. (it’s not useful to ask how old they were, it doesn’t matter to the person with the loss)
So what do you say to someone who lost their spouse?
The advice includes:
1. I am so sorry for your loss.
2. Give a hug instead of saying something.
3. Say nothing, just be with the person.
In a community like ours, there are friends and neighbors close by to lend support. There is a group in our community called Helping Hands that is very caring and willing to share. There is also a group that provides grief support.
A person probably won’t ever get over the grief of losing a spouse. I think living in a safe community like ours, with plenty of friends nearby and activities to keep you occupied, is an advantage.
Many in our community already have a “we are in the same boat” attitude that can provide a social support network for each other, when a helping hand is needed. We depend on each other.
We live in a perfect community to develop your social network and we will be more happy, secure and anti-fragile by doing so.
A surviving spouse dealing with grief and maybe shock, is then faced with dealing with all the practical elements of loosing a spouse. My friend and fellow VDC resident Sally Wheeler, has an excellent blog post about the practical things we can do to help out our spouse or family after we are gone. So You Think You Might Not Ever Die!