By Tom Blake
This week’s column was inspired by an email I received recently. The sender was a woman in Florida named Gloria, who subscribes to my weekly online eNewsletter. She is a widow of nine months.
Gloria and I have never met in person, but we’ve become email pen pals, sharing each other’s feelings of sadness, grief, and glimmers of hope during the first year after losing our mates.
Gloria wrote, “Is October the anniversary month of your partner Greta’s passing?
“Things are the same here in Florida. I don’t want to be on a dating site now; maybe again next year, but currently am done with the 78-year-old men who are looking for women in their early 60s.
“I am OK; it’s been nine months since Peter died. I still attend the grief support group and make friends there. We go out to lunch now and then, which makes me happy.
“You wrote an article 13 years ago about my meeting Peter. You nicknamed him The Italian Stallion.
“Occasionally, I go to happy hour with a girlfriend, but I noticed more women than men at the bar. I network by asking friends if they know someone, and no one does; it might change, but for now, there is no one. I realize that it’s a lot more difficult to meet someone at age 77 than it was 13 years ago.
“I miss him, but cry less often and feel grateful for what life offers me now. I still want a partner, so I will not give up hope.”
I replied to Gloria, “Yes, Greta passed last year on Oct. 29. I can’t believe it’s been a year. In looking back, it seems the year went by quickly, but I also recall the hours and days when time crawled and the heart was heavy missing her.
“Gloria, you are at the nine-month mark after losing Peter. Grief support has helped you and helped me as well. For me, it’s mostly because of the friendships with five women and one man formed via the grief-share gatherings and the activities the seven of us occasionally do together.
“As I am emailing you, I am looking at five notes I wrote by hand that are taped to my desktop computer. They somewhat reflect the different stages I went through during the first few months after Greta’s passing. They are:
- STUG—An acronym for “Sudden Temporary Uptake of Grief.” Unpredictable when they occur but felt often in the first few months; less now, but still inevitable.
- Don’t Overthink It. Reminding myself to stop thinking about why I lost Greta and what more I could have done to help her.
- Let It Be. Reminding myself that when adversity arises now, I have no control over it, so don’t sweat it.
- It Doesn’t Matter. Felt after people insisted that I should have waited a year before dating.
- Are You OK? My three-word response to disarm people speaking negatively about how I’m proceeding with life.
“So, Gloria, how will I spend Oct. 29, the one-year anniversary of Greta’s passing? I will likely go to Salt Creek Beach and look out over the Pacific Ocean toward Catalina Island, where Greta’s ashes were scattered, and reflect on how blessed I was to have had her in my life for 25 years. And how blessed I am now to have friends and two sisters who care about me.
“Or I might go stand-up paddleboarding in Dana Point Harbor to enjoy the pelicans and sea lions so prevalent there.
“You take care, Gloria. As one of my singing idols, Bob Seger, croons, ‘You’ll be fine in your time.’ I will be fine, also.”
Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has authored books on middle-aged dating. See his website at findingloveafter50.com. To comment: firstname.lastname@example.org.