Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Decisions . . . . .

and how to make them?

I don’t know how you would feel, but I find it very hard to make any at all since Beloved died. Being the only one to decide on major life changes is complicated; when there are two of you - preferably not more than two, otherwise there will be three or more different opinions - you can talk, sometimes for days, weeks, months, but eventually you will sort out problems and find solutions that suit both of you. With luck and goodwill.

I’ve had an unpleasant head cold since Friday afternoon, which fast turned into a chesty one. The kind of cold that you catch as if it were “thrown at you” as my mum used to say, without warning. All the cold remedies on the medicine shelves are long out of date, I haven’t had a proper cold for two years, but I am using some of the ones whose sell by date was sometime last year rather than two years ago. After all, can aspirin/paracetamol - the main ingredient - or sickly sweet cough syrups ever lose all their potency?

For two days I stayed indoors, barely washed and never got out of my pyjamas. A friend kindly bought my Saturday paper when he went for his own, waddled Millie along the drive - that’s Millie waddling, not my friend -,  and on Sunday a neighbour offered to take her for a quick walk. I was grateful but I should have turned her offer down, because this lady walks at a fair lick and Millie does fifty meters at fifteen minutes. And even then she has to have a little sit down on the way. She came home limping badly.

So Sunday night we were both feeling very poorly indeed. Millie woke me from a light, snuffly, snoring doze when she collapsed against the bedroom door as she tried to turn over. Obviously, I got up and calmed her, both of us lying on the floor. Whereupon, and not for the first time, it hit me. “What if something really serious happened?” You know what I mean, something serious enough to cause an injury which leaves you unable to get to a phone. And even if you get to the phone, whom can you ring for help in the middle of the night?

My mind flips from one side to the other. Do I sell, do I stay, do I find somewhere smaller, less isolated? Nearer a bus service, a train station, the shops, a cinema, a theatre? No point moving closer to my son’s town, he’ll be moving home himself again soon. I’ve even looked at residential retirement facilities, small one or two bedroom apartments, but there I’d probably live in close proximity with people a lot less mentally and physically active than I am.

I simply cannot come to any decision; could that mean that decision making is not a good thing at the moment? I’ve been feeling better again yesterday and today, have chatted with people, been to the gym, done some gardening - that always makes me want to stay put. Nowhere else would I get a location like the one I have now, no other home could be as comfortable as mine, the home I’m used to. So why move? Because of the comparative isolation and the larger than necessary house and garden, of course.

So, round and round in circles I go.

If I stay, I must do some decorating. If I leave, decorating will be a waste of time and money, not to mention the upheaval, the mess, the inconvenience. But moving house makes for upheaval, mess and inconvenience. And huge expenditure.

Perhaps it’s time to stop fretting and continue as I am, for now. Or, perhaps it’s time to make lists of pros and cons, weigh up things, get in touch with the professionals for estimates, house valuations, find help like the old-fashioned companions rich old ladies employed. Sadly, I am not a rich old lady. Besides, I am far too young for a companion.

Perhaps the solution is indeed to get organised, collect information, then evaluate and make those lists of pros and cons. How pathetic it all is. Help! I'm beginning to bore not just you but me too.


  1. Getting to a 'phone if in need of help is Leo's problem and the only answer if I am not there is to have someone live in in case of emergency.
    Despite being very fond of his carer he hates having someone else in the house...and so would I in similar circumstances.
    So live on in your lovely house, near friends and don't be afraid to call them in the middle of the night.

  2. Decisions should be avoided whenever possible while you are sick. Or stressed. Re the getting to the phone if needed, do you have Medi-Alerts (or something similar) there. (A button to wear around your neck which you can push and call for help.)

  3. My father used to say, “No need to rush into it.” But then my father often didn’t even move slowly toward a goal when he probably should have (!). As another commenter has stated, a good first step is Med-Alert. My mom (now 89) has this, and it has allowed her peace of mind to stay put in her home. Better too, to put off any big decisions until you are feeling better. Head colds really make it hard to think things through!

  4. Oh Friko, my heart goes out to you. I can identify with everything that you're saying. I think I bottled my grief up for months, sorting things out, being busy and all that sort of thing and then somehow it leaked out. My house is way too big for me. It needs money I haven't got spending on it and yet I am not unhappy here. Shall I stay? Shall I go? Go where? I haven't a clue. I can't even plan next week - it's just one day at a time for now. I hope that horrible chesty cold goes away soon. My thoughts and prayers are all around you. Love Molly xx

  5. It's too soon to make decisions. You need more time to evaluate your situation and needs. In the meantime, stay where you are, and learn to cope with things. As they say, if life gives you lemons, make a good lemonade, make the best of it.
    You sound a bit panicky, and there's no need at all to panic.

  6. Hi Friko - these things will happen ... Lifeline is good - I could tell you a very funny story about them and my uncle ... and perhaps will in a post in a few weeks. Whatever happens moving needs to be planned for next year ... and sounds like one day at a time is the way to go ... and see how you feel.

    Just good to know you're feeling easier and I hope Millie has recovered ... so she can enjoy her walks with you ... take care - cheers Hilary

  7. So hard, it is so hard to not know what to do. So, my two cents, for what they are worth (after all, you asked!). 1) Don't make permanent BIG decisions for a good year after the death of a partner/spouse/child/etc. unless they are mandatory (read that as eviction, poverty or you fall and break multiple bones that will not be likely to heal.) And never make them when you aren't well. Too scary. 2) Carry your cell with you at all time or wear a medical alert gizmo if you are concerned about the potential of something critical. 3) Start collecting info. If you never decide to move then chalk it up as "something I did" but if you do decide, it will be better to have things, decisions, info etc., over time instead of quick and sudden. Day trips to towns you might want to look at; casual conversations with friends; overviews of pricing, dog-friendliness, those kinds of things. That will help you make a wiser decision should you decide to do so. Meanwhile, make sure your friends in your village know you might want a bit of checking in upon now and then. Oh, and Millie -- should your kind friend again volunteer gently remind her that Millie is older and needs breaks or slowing down and you hope that's OK with her -- maybe she could do a short turn with Millie and a longer one on her own after Millie's done her thing.

    The short version -- if you can't come to a decision, the time is wrong to make one. Have a cup of tea, a glass of wine, ask someone to get you fresh aspirin and cough syrup (please) and be gentle with yourself.

  8. Did you say your son will be moving home soon? Ask him! He may have an idea. :)

  9. Oh dear Friko ~ You are still fresh in your loss and grieving. Everything seems so monumental and will for sometime. I agree with Jeanie about not making any major decisions for at least a year, and even then that seems too soon, because at that time in my widowhood, I was still in what they call the 'widow's fog'. That didn't really go away into probably the 4th year. Then in the 5th year reality really sunk in and I started to learn to get into living my new normal lifestyle.

    If you don't have to move because of health, finances or some other thing, and you love and enjoy where you are, then stay put and see the beauty in each day that you are blessed with.

    I have a little fanny pak, zippered pouch, that one wears around their waist, and when I'm outside I wear it with my smart phone in it. It has come in handy for taking photos of what's happening in my gardens, instead of having to come inside for my main camera. It is there in case I fall down or something else happens and I need help.

    I just got hit with a bad cold myself, starting with a sore throat and settling into my chest. The worst part was a week long, I'm better this week, but feel dragged out and still coughing up phlegm and blowing my nose.

    Keep a journal, if you don't already, and write down ideas, worries, etc. And have a cup of tea or a glass of wine, as suggested by Jeanie, and relax as much as possible.

    Love, hugs and prayers ~ FlowerLady

  10. As you said, make a plan for the future, write it down, and save it for a time in the future that you may need it. I have done that.

  11. We have lived for 27 years in our house. It needed repairs, it contained a lifetime of our and our grown kids stuff. It was hard, but we moved to a 55+ community which is really close to our daughter.

    It was a good decision. There are all ages here, has a "clubhouse" with so many opportunities. We are relieved to be away from all the repairs which had to be done arranged by our son-in-law.

    this isn't for everyone. We had thought about it for a year. If something happened to one of us, this is the place to be.

  12. I like your last thought; get organized, gather information, then evaluate based on list of pros and cons.

    The very act of getting organized and gathering information will leave you feeling more in control. And more able to properly evaluate and then make a decision.

    Hang in there Friko. It's so tough to live alone, after being a spouse for so many years. Especially when your spouse was also your beloved. Do take care.

  13. first off, I am so sorry about your husband.

    Good advice, don't do anything when you are sick, and it's good to wait a year, or more, after such a life changing event. Personally, I think that making NO decision, is at times the BEST decision you can make.. ......don't do anything, unless you are sure in your heart. A friend of mine, lost her husband, sold two houses, and bought a house in a bustling retirement community. She is happier than she has ever been.....she loves it. At the same time, I am fully aware, that I would hate it. So we are all different, and we must do what is right for us.........don't push yourself to know before it's time.

  14. No one would say it is easy and I expect I would be wimping out at making such a decision, but don't be like my mother who has left it too late to move on. She has clung on to her home of 40 years and her next move will be to a hospital to treat whatever ails her at the time and then into formal care. You are young and fit enough to make the move now and go on to have a fulfilling and high quality life. You will have future proofed yourself into your dotage. It's all your decision now. Don't wait until it is someone else's.

  15. As a recent widow I very much relate to missing having my partner to make decisions with. About moving, not making a decision is actually making a decision, to make no change now. Likely a good decision. I have those same midnight (or daytime) worries; what if I collapse and can't make it to the phone. I turn over my worries to Jesus and he takes them all, I am glad to say. Whenever I ask, He takes them. As for moving, I enjoy being in my home where lots of memories were made.

  16. I can't imagine what you're going through. I think a lot about what I would do if Peggy died, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't survive, but if I did survive, it would most likely be because of the obligation I owe to our four cats.

  17. I just recently caught a bug that I can't shake. I looked in the medicine cabinet and all I had was some cough syrup from 2015. Oops!

    Making a 'pros' and 'cons' list can never be a bad thing. x

  18. When I became a widow, I found decision-making easier than before, since I only had myself to consider and nobody else. But then I was in a very different situation; I had no reason to think about moving, only changing my work place (which I did eventually). Oh, and of course the strange decisions one has to make surrounding a death, such as choosing a coffin and flowers, deciding on where the urn is to go and so on. That felt bizarre at times.

    You will probably feel ready one day, and then take the decision that seems the best one at that particular time for you.

    Many in my family have decided to move, either downsizing or to be closer to facilities or other family members, and have not regretted it. For instance my mother-in-law in England sold her large house (where six of them used to live when the children were still at home) and bought a small cottage, just big enough for her, her two cats and an overnight guest, with a garden she can manage, and 5 minutes by car from her daughter. Mary is now 84 and still able to live on her own, but it would be much more difficult if she were still in the old house, far away from her daughter who now comes by twice a week to take her shopping, to appointments at the doctor's, and so on.

    I know you are much younger and fitter than Mary. What happened to your plans of travelling?

  19. stay put for now. no sense in fretting about the what ifs. no sense in removing yourself from all that is familiar. you will know when it's time to downsize...when you no longer enjoy gardening, when the stairs become insurmountable, when it all becomes just too much. in the meantime, make an arrangement with a friend or neighbor to check on you when you haven't been seen or heard, to have someone to call in the middle of the night, keep your phone at hand.

  20. Thank you for bringing us along. Because we are all getting on. And because we care about you. <3

  21. Living alone my mom (89) has a medic alert/emergency type bracelet and that gives her a lot of peace of mind. Nice to know if something really bad happened and you really needed help you can get ahold of somebody for an ambulance. She also has neighbors who check in with each other every day. I figure I will be doing the same down the line here. So far I am doing okay and can call my son and DIL who only live a mile away. But I will get a bracelet eventually. What if I fell and couldn't get to the start to think about that, yes. And you can get them set up to call a relative first.

    But if you had somebody you know who also lives alone where you could agree to do a quick check-in with each other every day plus had one of the bracelets--you could stay right where you were for a long time. As long as you can take care of yourself otherwise. Even if cleaning gets too much--can hire someone to come in and clean once or twice a month. (My mom has a monthly cleaner, too.)

    Unless you really miss having more people around. If you enjoy the groups who play cards and bingo or meet for coffee--that type of thing--then a retirement community would be nice. But it has always sounded like you have a network of friends where you are...and would the retirement community be near enough for you to be able to still see some of those people sometimes? Would it be okay with you if you didn't see them anymore?

    Lots of questions, yes. But it sounded to me you were mostly concerned about if something happened when you live alone--and a bracelet and a check-in buddy would solve that right away. :)

  22. I agree it is hard to have to make all the decisions when you have been used to mulling with Beloved. But there is still time for mulling! You have only had a year.
    It took ages for me to decide the simplest things. But after a while, when I didn't rush it, the decisions seemed almost to make themselves and they were the right ones.
    Give yourself time ~ and treat yourself gently x

  23. It is always good to have information but it doesn't sound like you need to move tomorrow and having a simple way to contact people in an emergency or check in with a designated person or two would probably relieve your fears. You are active and cognitively aware, so getting help to eliminate falling hazards in your home is also worth considering.

  24. This is a familiar story. I have been thinking of someday getting a more managable house, but hubby will not even consider it. If has a heart attack out in the woods, I will never know. His hearing is going as well. At least he will die happy. Now if I have a crisis, there is only the ambulance, but having written that, our neighbor is a driver of one! My kids are both in times in their life when they could move anywhere. We all have this, but I do like pro and cons. Maybe you could sell your house and lease it back?

  25. My first comment disappeared, so we will try again.

    I think what you are feeling and the questions you have about the future are normal, and I also think that most of us of a certain age have these questions. I know I do, and I have not lost a spouse yet.

    I think the advice of not making a decision that creates a major lifestyle change during the first year after a great loss is a good one. Of course then, one wonders when the best time for making such a change in circumstance should be. I liked how one of your commenters said that you should make the decision while it is your decision and not someone else’s decision.

    I was talking with a friend today whose husband passed away a year ago. She said that her situations is: different, difficult, but doable. I liked how she boiled it down to being described by three “d’s.” She and her husband had downsized into a one level home where the outside of the home is maintained by a homeowners association about five years ago. She is grateful to already be in a place where she can live without having to deal with stairs and without needing to maintain a yard or garden. She says learning all the new things she has had to learn has been different and difficult, but she is also learning she is able to do what needs to be done. I think she was much less involved in daily processes and bill paying and home maintenance than you have always been, so I have no doubt that you will find the best plan for you at a time that is best for you.

  26. There's so much good advice here, there's no need for me to repeat it. The Medic-alerts are good, as is having someone check in now and then. Make a pact with someone that the two of you will free to call at any time of the day or night -- there's comfort in that, too.

    What no one has mentioned -- or I missed it -- is Millie. After my beloved Dixie Rose died, part of my reaction was relief. I'd always said that the one thing I wanted was to outlive her, just because she was such a one-person cat, and I could imagine her misery without me.

    What I hadn't considered was that I'm now freer to downsize -- to move to a different apartment. I couldn't have done it while she was living, because it was her pleasure to have chairs at so many windows to watch the birds, and so on. The option for me down the road will be a much smaller place, with many fewer windows: not so nice for an indoor kitty. So think about that, too. Gathering information now is good, but as Millie is getting on in age, it might be good to delay a bit. Although you'll no doubt grieve her loss as I've grieved Dixie's, it may be possible to maintain things as they are for her sake, for just a little while.

  27. I am sure there is another widowed lady in your area who may feel just like you, you could check on each other...and if the need arises help each other out. :)

  28. You sound much like my mom, friend Friko ... she has had the same thoughts ... and after her lil dog "Ivan the Terrible" died, she got a new lil rescue dog, named "Doby" ... and I expect them to live happily ever after ... smiles and lots of love ... Always, cat.

  29. Stay put and enjoy another spring and summer. I worry that Millie is not doing so well. It is too soon to leave. And call options are many now including wristvwatches that are phones.

  30. I always counsel patients to move slowly on big decisions after the loss of a spouse. It seems like it is still too raw. I'm sorry.

  31. I have aging friends who live alone in remote places. One thing they do is to have a buddy system -- someone to check in with by phone daily. That might be a good thing to do.

  32. Take your time dear Friko. No reaction decisions but proactive. I was proactive in my move to the city to independent senior living. Went on a waiting list as the location was so perfect, had some stresses selling my sprawl of a rural property but now I haven't looked back.

    I am absolutely thrilled that I did when I did what I did. But everyone is individual and your grieving process takes as long as it takes.

    You'll know when.

    And no you never bore this reader.


  33. I too support the notion not to feel pressured to 'do anything'. Time will sort out what to do. Like Alice asking the Cheshire Cat which way she ought to go from here.

  34. Dear Friko, after major loss a person needs at a minimum a year before making any big decision. So please just be patient with your turntable of a mind right now. At some point, you will be able once again to prioritize and made decisions. But not now.

    And when that time comes, I'd suggest having someone come in to see what you could do to your home to make it livable for someone who is a aging. Maybe use only the main floor or build a ramp. So often a person can stay in her/his home with some adjustment. Peace.

  35. Guy at our drug store assured me aspirin is good for 1 year after expiriation date. I keep it around for Isabella, my dog, in case she gets sore from inflammation due to too much walking. I am sure your neighbor will gladly oblige and slow down for your dog if made aware of the necessity. The conundrum you find yourself in is one shared by many and has solutions that will emerge in their own good time. I do not believe in pushing things, but in allowing for clarity and focus to emerge. Some friends do daily check up calls just to make sure all is alright. There might be a single person in your community that might welcome a check in. I like the idea of subletting unused space to someone nice. Space is at such a premium, so expensive for way too many, maybe an artist of sorts would appreciate a quiet spot in a scenic environment? You got lots of options and can try them on and by one. I look forward to hearing what's next for you.

  36. do you have access to 'lifelines' or something similar where you where a necklace or wrist band that with a push of a button calls an emergency operator to arrange help?

    it sounds to me like you know what to do now: gather information and investigate. so often I think a decision is before me and I stress about it only to be reminded that it's either already made or the very information I need arrives at the moment of deciding, not before.


  37. It is difficult for anyone, deciding whether to move on. SO it's not just you, by any means.

  38. Am catching up as am just returning to blogging since a long hiatus. Your questions are not boring at all — simply classic ones most spouses left alone must ask themselves, sooner or later - unless some health situation takes that from them. Then, others must make decisions for them. It’s been over a decade since my husband’s sudden death, so I’m very familiar with all the questions you raise. Eventually, I even made some of those decisions that at times felt over-whelming prior to my doing so. Having made those choices, some decisions I’ve made have re-surfaced for re-examination from a differing set of circumstances. Ah-h-h, such is life.


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