Health & Wellness Over 50s Lifestyle

Facing Life Alone in Midlife

August 25, 2016
Facing life alone in midlife

Recently, my father-in-law passed away and my mother-in-law lost her partner of 70 years.  As she is 90 and never lived alone before, the transition to a life alone is very difficult for her.  Coming from another ‘generation’, who believed that women should be at home and not involved in financial matters etc., it is now left to my husband to take on many responsibilities for her.

She has never been an independent woman and despite living in Australia for more than 60 years, having immigrated from Italy, has not moved with the times.  One thing I learned after divorce and made sure I taught my daughter was to be self-reliant.  Yes, you can be in a relationship, however, don’t lose your independence and the ability to look after yourself.

We talk a lot about the importance of  ‘Me Time’ and making time for ourselves to do things that we enjoy.  However, that is totally different to finding yourself alone, where many of us find ourselves at some point in our life – whether we want it or not.

The could be as a result of the breakdown of a relationship, marriage, or the death of a partner/spouse,  It can be a devastating time and you need to take time to process through the grief, pain and feeling of utter loss.

‘Time heals all’ as the saying goes and we learn to find our way through and accept the changes in our life.

Learning to live alone in midlife

It can be overwhelming and daunting to face life on your own especially if you have been in a long term relationship.  You miss the companionship. You fear the uncertainty of your future. However, you can learn to enjoy your life again – you just need to give it time.

As hard as it might be, you have to move forward and make a life for yourself.

You may or may not be alone forever, but you can use this experience to develop your inner strength.  YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK – BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!

If you have a family they can be supportive, however, you can’t expect them to change their life to include you all the time.

So how do you learn to live your life alone?

Being alone doesn't mean you have to be lonelyClick To Tweet

Learn to Embrace and Enjoy your alone time

As I mentioned above, make that ‘Me Time’ count. Do things that you enjoy and bring comfort to you.  Embrace the feeling that you are responsible for you and feel empowered by that.  You are in control of your life and the decisions you make.

Take your time to find ‘YOU’ again

If you have been in a long term relationship, it can be easy to lose part of your identity.  Finding yourself alone can give you the opportunity to find yourself and get to know who you really are.

Get a handle on your financial situation

You may have had joint bank accounts or not been involved in paying bills etc., you need to understand your current financial situation.  Consult a financial planner to take a look at your finances so you can plan for a comfortable financial future.

Don’t make hasty decisions

Take time to breathe and accept the situation before making any major life-changing decisions.  Yes, you might want to run away or make major changes to your life; and you will, just not in the immediate future and you aren’t in the right headspace.

Pamper & Nurture yourself

Take a long bath, light the candles, play some music pour a glass of wine and let the warmth of the water relax your muscles.

Take care of your health

Living alone can make it so easy not to bother with cooking or eating well.  I know I lived alone for a while and yes, I lost weight.  That was due to just opening a can of baked beans for dinner instead of making a nutritious meal. However, it is important to take care of our health by eating a well balanced diet and exercise regularly.  Regularly daily exercise, such as a 30 minute walk, will not only keep your body healthy but also give you a more positive mental attitude.

Regular catch up with friends and family

Arrange to meet family or friends for a coffee, meal or a movie.  Connecting with others helps take our minds off our own problems and provides stimulating conversation, laughter and camaraderie.

Talk to someone if you aren’t coping

If you feel that you just aren’t able to cope with the situation make an appointment to talk to a professional counsellor who can help you transition your life.  Don’t be ashamed to say ‘I need help’.

Next, I discuss ways to start the living new chapter in your life with positivity and enthusiasm.

Let’s Keep Sizzling!

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23 Comments

  • Reply Carol Cassara August 25, 2016 at 07:11

    My heart goes out to her. 90 is late in life to have to make these adjustments, for certain.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 25, 2016 at 07:15

      Yes Carol she hasn’t been well as she developed Shingles just before Frank died so it is all a bit much for her at the moment.

  • Reply Doreen McGettigan August 25, 2016 at 07:35

    That is such a long time to be together and at thst age she should not have to chang much at all except for missing her partner.
    I think it’s the responsibility of family to take responsibility of our elderly loved ones in this situation in their own environment. I wish everyone felt this way.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 26, 2016 at 13:17

      I know Doreen I can’t imagine it really. Unfortunately, it usually rests on one member of the family to take responsibility. Sure, everyone in the beginning says they will be there but in reality life takes over and all the good intentions go by the wayside.

  • Reply LISA CARPENTER August 25, 2016 at 08:48

    Such a scary time for your MIL. We all *know* one half of the couple (more likely the female) will end up alone at some point, but it’s still difficult to REALLY know and prepare for. You offer excellent tips, something I’ll long remember …. and hopefully use for planning ahead, like we all should.

    Thank you for sharing!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 26, 2016 at 13:18

      It is Lisa and her situation has certainly reinforced in my mind that I need to prepare myself for being alone perhaps in the future. As you say, you don’t really know how difficult it will be when it happens to you. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Molly Stevens August 25, 2016 at 09:42

    This is a rough adjustment. My father found himself alone after a 70 year marriage to my Mom and he never recovered. I think being alone by choice is different than if life circumstances put you there. I wish the best for your MIL, Sue, as she adjusts to her new situation. I’m sure it is tough on you and your husband, but thank God she has you to rely on to help her during this lonely and difficult time.

  • Reply Leanne August 25, 2016 at 15:52

    Our generation has the benefit of being a little more self sufficient, but I know when my marriage nearly went down the drain, it was quite daunting to imagine life on my own. Fortunately the more I pondered it, the more I realized that I could do it and probably would have eventually thrived. Nice to not have crossed that bridge though!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 26, 2016 at 13:23

      Yes I feel like you Leanne! Maybe 10 years ago I might have been very daunted but as I get older and have made sure I have my independence and individuality I feel I could eventually cope. I hope I don’t have to for a while though!

  • Reply Toni Pike August 25, 2016 at 16:31

    A great article, Sue with brilliant advice. You have covered all the aspects that we need to consider. We all need to be self-reliant and have some independence or risk becoming a burden to our families.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 26, 2016 at 13:27

      I’m not sure how I would react Toni but this is how I would hope that I would be. I think I’ve learned from my mother-in-law’s experience and taken note.

  • Reply Rosemond August 25, 2016 at 16:34

    My thoughts and prayers go out to her. This must be such a difficult transition to go through. I can only imagine the difficulty in relearning who you are are after being a “we” for so long.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 26, 2016 at 13:27

      I think it might almost be impossible for her Rosie. We are just taking it a day at a time but she has no hobbies or interests so doesn’t enjoy time on her own.

  • Reply Anna R Palmer August 26, 2016 at 01:26

    I imagine 90 is hard in any circumstance. I love that you learned from this.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 26, 2016 at 13:29

      Thanks Anna, I am learning from her experience. I don’t think she will recover from the loss but we are just taking each day as it comes and making the best of things.

  • Reply Mimi August 27, 2016 at 22:48

    70 years…..more than a lifetime. I married late-ish, in my thirties. Sometimes I look back and wonder how I managed to be so self-sufficient and content in my life as a single woman. Your advice is sound and practical, Sue, for all couples growing older together.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric August 29, 2016 at 08:17

      Thank you for your positive comments Mimi! I know my MIL will probably not adjust to life alone, however, I am learning from her experience so in the future I won’t find myself in the same situation. Have a lovely week.

  • Reply Eugenie September 7, 2016 at 01:50

    This is a very good post, thank you, Sue. As an introvert, I actually prefer to be alone, but I know many people who don’t enjoy this state. And, frankly, I am not sure I would love to be THAT alone. At least your mother in law has a loving and caring family; something many older people do not.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 7, 2016 at 08:03

      I enjoy my alone time Eugenie but also like you not all the time. It will be very difficult for my mother in law to adjust after having her husband for such a long time and at the age of 90 it won’t be easy.

  • Reply How to Overcome Loneliness in Midlife - Sizzling Towards Sixty September 22, 2016 at 03:02

    […] In my previous post ‘Facing Life Alone in Midlife’ I discussed the overwhelming feeling of loss and grief with the death of a spouse/partner, a relationship breakdown and divorce.  I wrote about taking time to go through the process until you are ready to accept and move on with your life.  If you missed the post you can click here. […]

  • Reply Linda Simpson September 29, 2016 at 15:21

    Sue how is your MIL doing now? I am interested in your situation as I am here in Brisbane but have very elderly parents back in Scotland. They are aged 98 and 93 and I am an only child. I do all their administration over the internet from here. My mother is of the same generation as your MIL with the same outlook on life. I am sure she is going to be left on her own and I may have to move back temporarily because of that. Any comments on how to best deal with the very elderly left alone would be helpful.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric September 30, 2016 at 17:19

      Hi Linda, my MIL is not going that well. She is in constant pain from the shingles which affects the nervous system. My husband takes her to the doctor weekly for Vitamin B12 shots and reappraisal of her pain relief. She is now using morphine patches as well as tablet pain relief but mostly it is trial and error. I really don’t know where she would be without my husband and also with us living downstairs. I have to admit it is taking its toll on us as we have had to put our life on hold. My husband is 68 and I just feel selfishly that we should be enjoying our time together as you never know what will happen. He had a triple by pass and is in good health but my brother passed away suddenly last year at 65 so I’m ever mindful of that. My advice would be to try to persuade them both to move to a facility where care is on hand 24 hours a day. As you are so far away it is such a worry for you and if they make the move together it is easier than after one passes. That is what we are finding – she doesn’t want to move. We also have Anglicare help with the cleaning and they have been doing that for a number of years. They also used to take her shopping but now my husband does it for her. If you need to talk send me a PM on facebook as I understand what you are going through.

  • Reply Midlife Motivation #1 - 5 Quotes to Inspire Your Day - Sizzling Towards Sixty October 31, 2016 at 09:36

    […] Midlife is a time when we can find ourselves alone.  This could be because of divorce, becoming a widow or just never finding ‘the one’.  However, being alone doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.  I recently wrote about being alone in midlife and I’d love you to read my thoughts – Facing life alone in Midlife […]

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