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    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeMay 6th 2015 edited
    Good Afternoon Everyone,

    I invite you to log onto the home page - - and read today's blog. It was written to promote discussion about ourselves as individuals aside from us as spouses and spousal caregivers. It is my opinion about myself. It is not my intention to disparage anyone who feels differently. It is just something I have been thinking a lot about lately, and I think it is a relevant topic for discussion. For MEN as well as for women. Please read the blog, and post your opinions here.

    Thank you.

    Thank you sincerely Joan for sharing your queries. I find your posts so insightful and thought provoking.

    I too consider myself, "in process." By that, even though it has been over three years since my husband went into a facility, I still don't know who I am and what I want from this next chapter in my life. I ended up taking on, and continue, a strong advocacy role that exhausted me and recently resulted in care-giver burnout and last Friday a diagnosis of pneumonia.

    My husband is in hospital as the second facility could not handle his aggression, so now I have to gird my loins for yet another new facility. Dementia care has taken over my life.

    I too am thrilled for everyone here that has found a "new love." I ache for all that is inherent in that. I am thrilled people shared these new experiences with us.

    Like you though Joan, I need to become more whole myself before I consider an intimate relationship. I have mentioned on the boards feeling broken from this disease and want to heal from that. I would enter a relationship at this stage, not whole, thus not able to maximize and contribute to the experience.

    Thanks to all of you and this great discussion plus that of other threads, I now have the courage and conviction to focus on me. I consider my pneumonia as a wake up call. I need different boundaries and a focus on my health.

    I feel a little glimmer of joy filled hope that I will again find love with a man and we will both blossom. Until then, I trust the process I am in. And, I honor, every person's process on this fabulous site.
    Great blog, Joan! I am one who has found a companion with whom I am very happy and contented. When I moved to this very rural area I was absolutely alone, nothing to do nearby, no senior activities, no volunteer opportunities. He was in the same circumstances, although he had lived here all his life and knew 99% of the population. His wife died 4 yrs ago and he had cared for her at home - cancer. His grieving is still not over completely and we talk about it. He found me - purely by accident -I wasn't looking. By the time we met, I had grieved for my DH who had died 13 months before. I grieved each time over the 13 years of keeping him at home each time we plummeted to a lower level. All I wanted to do was live, love and be happy again. That is happening now. We each have our space, no plans for marriage nor even moving in together. It is wonderful to be alive once again and have someone care for ME after all those years of being denied that wonderful togetherness.

    We all travel different paths to happiness and contentment. We make our own destiny.
    • CommentAuthorJazzy
    • CommentTimeMay 6th 2015
    Very well said,Joan. Thank you

    Katherinecs, you and I are on so close to the same journey, same wishes, same dreams. I enjoyed your thread and saw me in so much of it except for the fact that I am not interested in a new relationship.


    Care and I hope you find a good place for your DH that will accept and care for him.


    One of the best things about this site is learning about the experiences of those who are further along in the journey. I allow myself to occasionally think about what life might be like alone, touching it delicately and briefly like an impacted tooth. I have already so lost myself in this disease that I don't even know what I like anymore. And I wonder if maybe I met my husband when he already was showing signs of AD, although I thought they were just personality quirks. So I don't trust my ability to choose another mate nor do I feel any longing to be with another person.

    I'm trying to get ahead of this problem by going way way back and trying to remember things I liked as a child. Last week I bought myself some pink and silver mylar balloons which waft about in the corner of my office; a giant 1,000 piece puzzle which I work on whenever I pass it on the way to refresh Jim's drink; an adult coloring book with drawings of Carnivale and many colored pens; a set of 154 Crayola crayons (oh they smell so good) and the I'm-ashamed-I-like-the-pretty-people People magazine to read while I wait to wipe DH's bottom. Oh and a pink comb. I'm not any kind of a girly-girl but if something strikes my fancy I don't allow my intellectual or adult mind to react. I just get it. Somewhere inside me I seem to like pink, coloring, and the adult equivalent of Teen Magazine.

    Not sure it's helping but it's something. Joan, I admire you so much ... you are ahead in the journey and I appreciate you alerting me what to watch out for as I follow behind. I hope to have the courage to go to a concert alone someday, too. xoxxo
    Excellent article Joan. My husband just passed last Sunday and I am in the midst of funeral planning but I know that I am not sure of what the next step for me will be. I totally agree with you that we must know who we are as people and then can better participate in a healthy relationship. Most relationships start with 2 needy people who are lonely. The thing is that the task of learning who we are is a journey unto itself and given that I am in my late 60s and most of us on the website are in the 50 and above age range, we do not have a ton of time left. That is coupled with the fact that there are a lot more women in this age range than men which makes the pickings a lot less. I have had a ton of phone calls from people who never called me before asking me how I am. I tell them ok but right know I do not know how I am. I am just trying to get through this week. I have a male friend who has "been there" for me through a lot of this nightmare and honestly it was a lifeline. He lives 150 miles away but still it has been a huge help to me. I read somewhere that when you look back and think about the things you loved to do when you were 10 years old is an excellent indicator of what you might enjoy now. As I reflect back, I loved swimming and bike riding. I loved books, made a lot of trips to the library, just to name a few. That is why I love Bunny's Lamb list of things she loves. I too loved coloring, which makes me think I will go out and buy some markers and books. I have a table set up in my living room and plan to do some puzzles next winter as I loved puzzles when I was younger. I also love knitting and do a lot of that. I do not think I want to remarry or at least not in the immediate future but I would not mind a male friend to go places with such as concerts. I know I could do these things by myself but it is more fun with a partner or at least a friend. My issue now is that I do not have that many close friends anymore. Most of my so called "friends" have been associated with Alzheimer's and have moved on or they are still dealing with the disease as their spouses have not yet passed. The one social worker at the LTC where he passed told me that men who are admitted are 10 times more needy than women who are placed, she said because they are used to having their wives take care of them. Any relationship I would have in the future would need to be someone who can take care of himself without a woman. Thanks again for the thought provoking topic.
    This is such a good topic - my DH is nearing the end of the line after only a 3-year journey and I am in my mid-60's. I wonder what the future holds, assuming my own health stays intact.
    As others have said, I would love to have a companion with whom to go to concerts, dinners, etc. but the thought of another marriage or intimate relationship scares the life out of me. I guess this is partly for selfish reasons as I would not want to have to care for another Alzheimer's patient, nor would I want anyone to have to do it for me, should the situation ever arise. However, I do think it is important to keep our hearts and options open and never say never. I am so happy for those of you who have found new relationships but I also think it is possible to be whole and content as a single - I just wish I knew how to start the process!
    Joan, You ask me "What defines my happiness?"
    .......That is a question that I've thought about a lot, and I know exactly what it is. Of
    course I happen to be 93 years old now, But I think it was the same for me throughout
    my life.
    .......To put it simply, it's just a matter of making someone else happy. I enjoy the typical
    good things in life, like my favorite movies, concerts, and trips to wherever. But it's not
    the same feeling that I get when I realize that I have contributed in some manor to
    another's happiness or well being. This is especially true for a loved one.
    .......I've written so many stories about happiness and I could go on and on about it.
    Actually, I think I have a hang up about happiness, but I can't imagine anything better to
    be hung up on............. GeorgieBoy

    .......EDITED...I Just got up from having a wonderful nap and ate one of my favorite
    Ice-cream bars. How I love my naps and ice cream. And now I'm thinking....Did that
    make my happy???..........I don't think so.......So I'll have to add them to the list of
    movies, concerts and trips .........Things that I just like to do.
    .......So now I'm thinking.........What is the difference between this list of things that I
    enjoy and the what really makes me happy?.....I think I know the answer
    .......It's as simple as this......What really makes me happy is having a good opinion of
    myself.....A feeling of self worth.......That's it.....That's happiness for me.
    I have had other spouses with LOs at the facility DH is, ask what it is I like to do. I don't know. For the past 30 years I have raised 2 children, 2 step children and taken care of DH for years. During this time I worked, took care of the house and yard work. I lost myself years ago. I cannot think of a relationship or the future right now. My days revolve around visiting DH and taking care of the house and yard. Not to mention still worrying about the kids and grand babies. I take one day at a time and then I don't do that well. I am still in a fog in dementia land. I do good to get out of bed get dressed. I hate this disease. Believe it or not I am still dealing with extended family members in denial. Then they say things about certain kids not visiting their dad. That's not my problem.

    I guess I am saying i really do not know where I am going in the future. I really want sometime to remember who I was. Do not want the responsibility of another person in my life. Like co2 said, If I did in the future find someone, he would have to be able to take care of himself. I always say the only persons happiness that you can make is your own. That's a hard enough struggle.

    I do have so many things to be happy about. I just have to think of those everyday.
    • CommentAuthorbqd*
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2015 edited
    Warning to those of you with picture perfect marriages, who's lives as husband and wife were defined by time and activities spent together. IMHO this topic deserves to be addressed from another viewpoint.

    My happiness is defined by my level of independence and freedom to do what I want to do, when I want to do it.
    I guess my marriage was more of a partnership, where each of us shared parenting and household responsibilities, more or less equally, with no regard to roles. My DH and I were both breadwinners for the family at different times during our 39 years together. Each of us could, and did, look after children, cook, clean, do yard work, make household repairs, and look after the finances, with the roles shifting as circumstances changed over time. When we were first married, my DH worked shift work, I worked weekdays with weekends off. I was encouraged to keep my own friends and activities, and my DH did the same. Then, my DH became a travelling salesman, and was gone from Monday to Friday. Roles shifted again. Later on, DH stayed home as a house husband and I traveled for my job. We had some friends as couples, but most of our friends or activities and hobbies were not "couples" things, although we went to concerts or movies together when we were able, and took vacations as a family. But through all this, we still each had our own set of friends and hobbies. Neither one of us thought of this as selfish, and I think that it actually made our relationship better because we did not feel stifled by each other.

    One of the reasons I took a break from this board was so that I could explore whether I could still have a life outside of Alzheimer's and the world of a caregiver for someone with dementia. I discovered that I could. I have friends who care about me, and I am continuing with hobbies I enjoy - quilting, gardening, and singing. But my DH's disease is severely limiting my ability to do this.

    How I look forward each month to my week of respite, when DH is in an ALF and I know he is well looked after and I can do what I want, when I want. Spontaneous lunches with friends or shopping expeditions. I do not contact the facility when he is there; they will call me if they need to, so a heavy burden is released from my back and I can feel for a short time at least, the happiness and fulfillment of the life I had before.

    But except for that week each month, I am not a happy person. I am dependent on an agency telling me when and for how long I can do something on my own while a caregiver comes to sit with my DH or he is at Day Center. Don't get me wrong, I still care and have compassion for my DH. I maintain a positive attitude, and I keep a smile on my face, but I am looking forward, ever more eagerly, to the time when I have my independence back.

    As to the question of whether I can be happy without a partner, the answer is yes, although if someone came along who allowed me to continue with my independence, then I certainly would consider sharing my life with someone.
    What a great topic, Joan. I've had to think about it for a couple of days. I agree with George that reaching out to help others is very important--we're all riding Starship Earth together through the galaxy, after all. We only have each other.

    But the question, as you said, is: Can we find happiness within ourselves without a partner? I think the answer is "yes", once we get through the craziness of the bereavement process…and that process will be different for each one of us…there is no "right" length of time. I think that after the difficulties of caregiving, it is not only right, it is almost imperative that we take care of ourselves first at least for a while. We've not only lost spouses to death or placement, we've lost the whole way of life that went along with our marriages. I think that we have to find our balance, find our own individual place in the world…become "whole" as you put it, Joan. For some of us, that will be enough.

    For others who want to team up with another partner, or who perhaps aren't thinking about it…but someone comes along who is just too good to pass up…well, why not? I've told the story before about my mother who was widowed at 69 after a happy, 50-year marriage. She was alone for ten years before she remarried at 79 to my then-81-year-old step-dad. And they were genuinely, no kidding, madly in love. They had eight very happy years together…it was soooooo nice to see…before Mother died at home with him by her side.

    So there are many ways to be happy: With a partner, without a partner…but it starts from within, and I think we do need to heal the Alzheimers damage to some degree first.
    • CommentAuthorCharlotte
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2015
    Like others I have been thinking about this. Since my husband seems to be going slowly it will probably be a long time yet.

    Like many, I was married at 18 – went from home to marriage. I have worked over the years, most of the jobs low paying but work I think I enjoyed. The last 44 years (this month) has always been about him and then kids, then back to him. I think I believed that was the way it was suppose to be - the example I grew up with.

    When we got married I had to say goodbye to one of my few good friends from high school because he was a man. Hb could not accept I could have a non-sexual relationship with someone from the opposite sex. To be honest, throughout all our years of marriage I avoided friendships with a male or female for fear of causing problems. The irony is he was always friendly with women he worked with and usually found one to confide in instead of me. I didn’t like but accepted it – didn’t want to be a divorce stat nor had the confidence to survive on my own.

    We have moved so often I have friendly acquaintances but no solid female friends – never found anyone that I had common likes with. Maybe that is because I did not know what I liked. I was a peacemaker from childhood – always did what would keep peace or make others happy (as long as it was not bad things). I actually have very little memory of ‘happy’ times as a child, only the painful. They say that is common with abused children. That problem continued into adult life – not many good memories even though there had to be. I did have what I thought was a good friend when we lived in one place for 5 years. There was a couple that we hung out with almost every night and weekend. Of course, we did things they wanted to do. But, I found out when a bad thing happened to us they disappeared never to be heard from again.

    I see my happiness coming when I am able to find out what I really like, what makes me happy. There has got to be more to life than watching TV and sitting at the computer. I do enjoy reading a good Christian romance novel, use to enjoy cross stitch. The lady that moved away, the one I would go talk to – again was what made her happy. I learned early to hold my tongue, keep peace. In normal circumstances I probably would not associate with her. She uses occasional profanity – worse when she is drinking. Our lives really have very little in common but we have managed to become friends. If I were single though, I know of very little in common we could do together. I guess with hb and not being able to go off without him keeps me safe.

    I would like another relationship in the future if possible, but it would have to be a man who wants us to be happy. He would be aware and not let the relationship be one-sided. Sex is not important since that has been missing from our marriage for well over 10 years, even before AD diagnosis. I want a man who won’t let me sacrifice my own happiness to cater to his. Before I could stand up for that, I need to find out who I am, what makes me tick, what makes me happy inside.

    A question that needs answered: Are the activities I have done over the years really just for him or the kids or are they really things I enjoy? I gave up going to church because hb did not want to any longer because he could not remember what was said and forgot people. I made a stupid vow that hurts me today that I would never go to church alone. I watched my mom sit in the back of church by herself because my dad did not go and hated it.

    I am one that enjoys going shopping alone. I like to shop but not buy! I do not mind going out to eat alone although the rare times I have gone out with another woman where we sat and talked I did enjoy it. I love bike riding but he does not. He will ride a short distance but I am talking about 10 miles or more. I don’t know if I will ever be able to do that again – depends on shape and age when free. I have reconnected with a girl I have known since diaper days. We lost touch after high school because hb did not like me associating with high school friends. I guess it was male and female friends he didn’t like unless it included their husband too. She desperately wants to get together but we can’t due to hb. I guess I don’t want to stick someone with him or add the stress on him of trying to associate with a stranger.

    I want to truly be happy and at peace, not just exist. How that will be accomplished will depend on my situation whenever I am ‘free to be me’.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2015
    Hi Charlotte, I'm impressed at the depth of your understanding of why you feel the way you do. I am not even close to being that self-perceptive. I just hate it, though, that even in your husband's diminished state, he is still controlling what you can do. What really bothers me is that you can't even leave him long enough to go to church or to get together, even for a quick cup of coffee, with your childhood friend. After putting yourself last for all these years, these two wishes seem like the least you deserve.
    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2015 edited
    I have to say that I am thrilled that this subject has generated so much thoughtful discussion. Do you notice something? Only one man has joined in the conversation. That, in itself, is probably worth an entire blog on its own. It is NOT just women who have an identity crisis after the loss (either through placement or death) of a spouse. Men do too, but I suspect that they do not think about it in as great depth as we women do. Men, where are you? I, for one, would like your perspective on this. Thank you, George, for your comments.

    • CommentAuthorCharlotte
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2015
    Myrtle - my girlfriend lives on the Oregon coast about a 6 hour drive away. That would mean at least one night stay.

    Also, I admit I avoid developing friendships cause I know at one point this disease will totally isolate me. Easier, in my thinking, to isolate now. I am not totally because I have online friends and acquaintances.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 7th 2015
    My ideas are similar to Bonnie's (BQD). Independence, freedom, sharing, partnership and friendship. Highschool was great. University and jobs were about degrees and money. The minute I didn't need the money I retired. My only real interests in life have been Dianne, acting, studying, and comedy. I changed my entire life with those where no degree or job struck me as important which turned out to be correct.

    I've been an alien for as long as I can remember. I thought differently, saw different things, and generally got into trouble for it until I learned to shut up and pick my spots. Learning how to act was my only chance of appearing normal. I've done so many strange things I couldn't count them. I wrote to several agencies that the solution to nuclear waste is to send it into the sun which is a continuous nuclear explosion anyway and is hard to miss. That risk gets it off the earth and compares with storing it for millenium. I didn't hear back.

    I'm also with Elizabeth riding the starship earth through the galaxy and that includes knowing the chinese are upside down 7900 miles below your feet as you read this and below that is the other half of the sky above their heads but below yours.

    For me life is an incredible book you live where you know the entire time the hero dies (another thing I'm not allowed to talk about) in the end but not reading the incredible book means the hero dies now and I've been aware of that for 62 years where I hope to go out throwing up over the side of the boat which is where I came in.

    My Dianne passed away 78 days ago. Actually she passed away in pieces over ten years and I think both of us were relieved that she was able to slip away quietly. My grieving stretches way back to July 31, 2008 at 7:32pm the night before our 38th anniversary which is the moment I knew her passing was inevitable. And the story I'm telling is that I know I will love again anyway because I've seen that thoughts in the windmills of my mind are full of openings and opportunities already.

    Dianne wasn't any more conventional than I am which some know from the stories I've told over the years. You live the truth as you know it and follow that. Mine is that I know that there are a lot of fine women out here and I know there are some guys somewhere I could get along with. I also know that I'm not myself yet and that I'm not in a hurry. I've never had time like this where not only do I do what I want every minute, but I encourage myself to do so as part of healing.

    What would make me happy is if I found a way to stop being lazy and amusing myself and instead worked hard at something seriously which would honestly be the first time in my life. Not to make money. To work to do the thing better. I don't have that passion but I would like to.

    I have a list of things I'm happy about. I didn't lose my sense of humour which took a long break but is alive and well. I didn't lose myself which took a long break but we're working on it. I feel satisfied with who I am. I feel confidence about things getting better and my thoughts really are hunting things to do that I might like. I'm playing again. I'm phoning people. I go out without hesitation. I can feel Dianne in the way I want her like a memory friend riding along. I feel no regrets with her. Believing in my own life has stood the tests.

    I feel upbeat about my future. Is that being happy? And I forgive my mother for giving me her bad teeth.

    Dentist: I'm afraid this is going to take years to complete
    Me: I'll be dead by then
    Dentist: But you'll have great looking teeth.
    (cut to Monty Python's dancing teeth)
    (curtain fall preferably on the dentist's head)
    (cut back to Wolf typing)

    What defines my happiness? I don't know; half the time I've been typing this I've had Michael Keaton showing up repeatedly saying "I'm batman". I really do need to go out more. Or once even. I have no idea where I'm going to end up but life is going to have to work awfully hard to make my next decade (fingers crossed) as bad as my last decade (not you Dianne).

    Monty Python's Dancing Teeth

    I'm batman:
    Well, I'm speechless, Wolf. (Those two youtube videos before breakfast were just too much. Hahahahahahahahaha--weirdness rules! Now, where's my oatmeal?)

    But you said it perfectly: " I'm not myself yet" and " I'm not in a hurry." And Larry is also "a memory friend riding along."

    I agree that we should shoot our nuclear waste into the sun. Sounds reasonable to me.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2015
    Charlotte - I agree, Six hours is a long way to go for a cup of coffee and a chat! Thank goodness we have the internet.
    • CommentAuthorCharlotte
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2015
    Wolf - living near Hanford (about 3 miles away) I agree on gifting it to the sun. It would be a lot cheaper than the cost of cleaning up the mess that is here. Good news - we are not glowing yet!!

    Believe it or not, my girlfriend does not even have a computer. So wish she did. Says she doesn't even know how to work one.
    I certainly get your point, and your stated goal--to let yourself heal into a whole person, content unto yourself, before even entertaining the idea of partnering. That sounds reasonable. To be overlapping re-partnering with the still-necessary processing of loss to Alzheimer's can get, at times, somewhat muddled and confusing. Emotions and reactions bubble up here and there, and it can be tricky to sort out what exactly is the source.

    To the extent that you (or any of us) are able to "plan" how we'd like to steer our lives going forward, it seems rational to do so. Though I did open myself to the possibility of a companion, I really did have "companion" in mind. Someone to do something with. I did not plan to (nor did I think I even could) fall in love like a hormone-crazed 15 year old. I surprised myself on that count.

    I would like to think that happiness, for me, or at least a real good dose of contentment, would have followed embracing life with an open heart and mind, regardless of whether it led to a new partner, or a new avocation...or whatever. As it happens, I have a couple new avocations in addition to a partner, and they are pleasing and rewarding.

    I don't think a spouse/partner is a requirement.
    • CommentAuthorWolf
    • CommentTimeMay 8th 2015
    Charlotte, you sound to me lately like there may be some change. If I could time travel I would go back and give my grandfather a severe beating. If I do I could swing by and take care of other chores. If there is some possibility of kicking this box off the moving train and watching it splinter into pieces, then this is an extremely fragile time. It's impressive to be strong in adversity but it takes even more to overcome. At least that's what I've seen. I've never faced anything that hard.
    Emily, love the past sentence of your second paragraph. Me, too!
    Rather than edit my post, I'll put an addendum here.
    So, no...partnership not required. What might be a requirement is something more Buddhist-sounding. I think some of those philosophical types were onto something when they were talking about letting go of our attachment to outcome. Clearly, we already know we don't get to pick how things go in this life. We can set intentions, take steps in the direction we think we want...

    But, the only thing we can be really sure about is...nothing. So, we might as well
    1)Do things we enjoy, which can (and possibly should) involve new learning. I am learning to work with metal--jewelry, soldering, hammering. It just suddenly occurred to me that I wanted to do that, so I jumped in.

    2)Enjoy the people and other critters in your life. Take a genuine interest. Look at the amazing, cool, neat things--both large and small scale.

    3)Get a birdfeeder.

    4)Make some kind of tea. Make a little ritual out of it. Personally, I have a cat in my lap and I'm drinking coffee. But I still recommend tea.

    5)I'm being lazy right now. Try to balance the lazy with actual intentional exercise. It sort of makes the lazy ok.

    6)Wait, there is something we can be sure about: We don't have that long. I have no further suggestions. Please see #2.

    I don't mean for this to sound like's just what works for me.
    As one of the few males on this site I'll add my comments. Since my wife just died one month ago I am still processing the whole thing. To add to my problems I decided before she died to move her to a new facility where she would get better care. This meant I had to move to a new retirement facility. I was anticipating, and planning for, her to live at least another 5-10 years. Then suddenly she rapidly deteriorated and died within less than 2 weeks. Now I am in the new facility (the one we moved out of 2 years ago, so I know about 1/2 of the residents, and my sister is here). I'm still getting over her death (although I really lost her 5 years ago) and getting settled in the new facility. I did get on the 2 week cruise after she died where I shared a cabin with a friend (female) of 65 years. Her late husband was the brother I never had. Our relationship was more like brother and sister. The one thing I learned is that I am going to be VERY careful about any future relationships. She has some health problems which prevented us from doing some of the things I wanted to. At times I felt that I was back in the caregiver mode.

    To answer Joang's question about why more men don't add their comments - Men are programmed to solve problems. Women are more comfortable sharing feelings.
    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeMay 9th 2015
    march, I think you're correct in saying that, "Men are programmed to solve problems. Women are more comfortable sharing feelings."

    But that's not true of everyone, including myself. When I'm with other women, I often feel like the character played by Sandra Bullock in the movie, "Miss Congeniality." This is strange since I come from a family of all girls and I even went to (what was then called) an "all-girls" college. I think it must be the way I was raised because my sisters are like that, too.
    Myrtle, that's me too. Good reference!
    Joan, a wonderful and thoughtful post, as always. I am still mired in almost fatal grief, feeling half the time as though my heart will break right in two. So I haven't had a lot of thought about what might make me happy except for one thing - I bought myself a brand new set of golf clubs! I haven't played in years, as my DH never played, and I just lost track of my golfing friends. I find that, so far at least, the prospect of getting out on the golf course again is the only thing that has made me anything close to happy. I plan on taking lessons so I can refresh my skills.

    So that's it for me so far. Otherwise, everything I think of seems to lead to greater grief. I am not in the least bit interested in a relationship, and feel like I would run like hell if one presented itself. Before marriage I was fiercely independent, and it was very frightening for me to open up and become vulnerable to my DH - in fact, it was a process that took many years. I don't want to ever go through that again.

    • CommentAuthoracvann
    • CommentTimeMay 11th 2015
    My wife, Clare, has been living in an ALF for 18 months and I'm still struggling to find happiness by myself. I miss her terribly even though I still visit her daily. We had one of those fairy tale marriages and going from a 'we' to an 'I' has been incredibly difficult. As I wrote in a recent article, "An Alzheimer's Spouse ... Married Yet Widowed," I grieve for what was and what is. Losing my wife, my lifelong partner, my best friend, my lover ... just very hard. I have adjusted as best I can and I go bowling 4 times a week, work out 3 times a week, will soon be golfing, and I have my writing. But almost all of the things I loved doing with Clare ... those are history now and that is still so sad. Much like George wrote, bringing pleasure and happiness to others is what makes me really happy, and doing so for Clare made me happiest of all. Ironically, that still keeps me going. Each day when Clare sees me, she is so happy. When we sit together after supper cuddling on a couch in the lounge, she is so happy. When I take her to the the beach and we just sit and cuddle, she is so happy. When I take her out for lunch every Monday, she is so happy. Bringing pleasure and happiness to Clare is still my number one priority ... and that is what makes me happy. How much longer I'll be able to do that, I do not know. Clare no longer recognizes our children or grandchildren anymore, so I know it won't be long before she no longer knows who I am. She has already told me at times, while holding my hand, that she needs to find her husband. And she already tells me sometimes that I am "such a good lady" as her words disappear slowly but surely. But at this point in our 9 year journey ... 3 years before diagnosis when docs kept saying she was under stress or her problems were due to anxiety or depression ... and 6 years since diagnosis ... whereas I am, thankfully, able to find some happiness engaged in activities on my own, my greatest happiness is still found in seeing the smile on Clare's face when I come to visit.
    So many answers to such a big question. I want to point out..after reading here...that one little thing has made me a happier person. Reading the love and caring from the men here, knowing we are all the same despite our gender, that the guys care as much and sometimes more for their women. I could just squeeze all of you in a huge bear hug. You bring hope to a sad heart.

    I know that the love that is romantic, there is no substitute. I can remember. And it is even scary to think of the giant highs it brings, the skip in our step, the radiant eyes and full up heart.

    I have come to accept, almost, that this may not happen again for me, and I am ok with it. I can reach some good level of joy, not quite as good as the one being held, cuddled, and loved, but a pretty good level. Taking care of my health is #1, and reaching out to others is tantamount, it is so fulfilling to see I can make someone happy. And giving seems to reach beyond ego satisfaction., to the point of spirituality. I only hope I do not forget to continue to think of others, that it is not just a step but a prerequisite.

    The other thing for me is keeping active, and creating, loving the critters. It does not totally fill the void but keeps me from curling up under the blankets.
    I like your formula Coco.
    One thing the “new” retirement village I am in has is a “lunch and a poem” each Wed. noon. I found a poem about the loss of an Alzheimer Spouse which I read to the group since several of them knew my wife when we lived here 2 years ago. I’ll try to copy it below:

    You didn’t die just recently,
    You died some time ago.
    Although your body stayed a while,
    And didn’t really know.
    For you had got Alzheimer’s,
    You failed to comprehend.
    Your body went on living,
    But your mind had reached its end.
    So we’ve already said “Goodbye”,
    To the person that we knew.
    The person that we truly loved,
    The person that was “You”.
    And so we meet again today,
    To toast your body’s end.
    For it was true and faithful,
    Until the very end.
    And so, when we remember
    We’ll think of all the rest.
    We’ll concentrate on earlier,
    And remember all the best.
    For in the larger scheme of things,
    Your illness wasn’t long.
    Compared to all the happiness
    You brought your whole life long.
    We think of you as yesterday
    When you were fit and well.
    And when we’re asked about you,
    It’s those things that we’ll tell.
    And so we meet in memory,
    Of a mind so fit and true.
    We’re here to pay our last respect,
    To say that “we love you”.
    Dick Underwood, 2010
    A lovely, lovely, poem, Marsh. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    • CommentAuthorbqd*
    • CommentTimeMay 13th 2015
    Beautiful, marsh!
    Thanks Marsh..........I love to read it and wander in
    the memories of my own Dear Helen.
    I looked at it yesterday and then came back again today. Such a beautiful poem…I am looking back with a smile and a tear. Thanks, Marsh.
    • CommentAuthorBruce *
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2015
    As I read this blog, I realized that you have made a very valid point. I have found a new person to have my life with. After being together for almost three years I still miss my DW and know that I probably always will. I have come to accept that as I move forward. The one reality of this is that I am not alone anymore and I do not have to do everything alone. I now have someone to share time and occasions with and life in general. The last five years that my DW was alive, everything was done alone even though she was still alive. Even the times spent with her was like she was just a breathing soul living in the same house with me as her caretaker. Her eyes told the true story they showed no emotion regardless of what went on around her and that is where the loneliness was. Yes she would smile and hold my hand and even talk to me but her eyes were just a blank stare and that was worse than her not being there. Now I have someone who is alive and even though she is going through some health issues, she still is fully alive and aware.. I will always be thankful that I found someone to move forward with. You are probably right when you say you want to find out who you are and how to live alone but I assure you that having a close companion will soften your days and encourage you to move forward and find out the answers you seek with a lot less pain and suffering. No there will still be bad days and lonely nights but knowing that someone close to you is willing to share their life with you through these times will make life a lot easier to bear.

    Just saying
    And, you said it well,Bruce. I'm so happy for you and I, too, have found someone to share my life. Life can be so good - again - after. May you find much happiness in the days ahead!
    At my age, 78, I'm not looking for another man but do want close friends to share my life with. Is it necessary to have another relationship to be happy? I think that's what Joan is asking.
    • CommentAuthorCharlotte
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2015
    Dazed -no. I think a few good friends can be just as good maybe even better. But, one can never count out that it may happen when one least expects it.
    • CommentAuthorAdmin
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2015
    Yes, Dazed, what I am saying is that I need to learn who I am without my husband, and learn to be happy with myself and friends before I will feel whole and complete enough to enter into another relationship. Not everyone feels this way, and that's okay, but for me, I need to become whoever I am going to become as a single, before I am ready for a new relationship.

    • CommentAuthormyrtle*
    • CommentTimeMay 16th 2015 edited
    Good heavens! Why would it be necessary to have a relationship to be happy? There are millions of single and divorced people out there who are not in romantic relationships but who are still happy.

    What bothers me about this is that if you define happiness as being in a relationship, you're putting your own happiness in the hands of someone else.
    I have thought about this a lot and have come to realize that I feel as Joan does... I need to become better acquainted with who I am now, and what makes ME happy as a person before I think about entering into a relationship with another person. Also,(I say this half-jokingly) if and when I meet someone that I may be interested in, I plan to conduct a thorough interview regarding his medical history....and if there is even a hint of any health problems, I will run the other way....because I do not want to be a caregiver again!!!! My heart has been broken enough.
    Bella*, I thought the same as you. No more caregiving! I'm not sure of your age, but at 75 or older there are most likely some health problems. I met my 'friend' purely by accident and we both appear to be in excellent health. However, as our relationship progressed we found that each of us have our 'flaws', and that we can live with them - simply for the joy and happiness we bring to each other. No marriage in our future - just day by day enjoyment and love! It's a wonderful life now.
    • CommentAuthorCharlotte
    • CommentTimeMay 17th 2015
    My grandmother, after 40 years of being a widow, remarried when she was around 80. She loved him, was good to her and we were happy for her. Happy until we found out he hated her grandkids. She was my only living grandparent and was hard to 'loose' her to this guy. A few years later he left her. It was later we found out he was going blind and did not want to be a burden to her. She was heartbroken especially since she did not know why he left her. It was shortly after that dementia started to show up and I don't know if my aunt ever told her the truth of why he left. Trauma seems to often trigger it, it did my my hb too.

    yes, find out who I am first. That in itself can be terrifying. I guess the hazards of marrying young!
    I consider myself a very lucky man:
    I was encouraged by friends and a Hospice Grief counselor to get out. Everyone kept telling me it was now my turn, I had sacrificed ten years caring for DW and I shouldn't be a fool and let life pass me by.
    I had a wonderful marriage that lasted 53 yrs. I had always been married - since I was 19 and DW was 17, I'd never been alone. I quickly discovered I hated being alone. (DW was at home until her final few days)

    I quickly realized that wanted and needed a someone in my life. I began dating, but rarely met anyone I wanted to see on a second date and then I met "A"

    I found her via an on-line dating service a friend had signed me up on as a goof! We were both in similar businesses and had similar life stories. Our first date went from a meeting for a drink, to "let's have dinner" to 4 1/2 hours later the owner of the restaurant asking us what was the special occasion? When we said "this is our first date" he returned to the table with a bottle of champagne. When we finally left and I was walking A back to her car she said " I feel as if tonight was page one of chapter two of the rest of our lives." Love at first sight at when were in our 70's ??????

    Within two weeks we were living together, that was a year and a half ago. We have not be apart since. We now both have our homes listed for sale and will be purchasing "our" new home together when both are sold... Thus far Chapter two has been wonderful
    • CommentAuthorMim
    • CommentTimeMay 19th 2015
    I think you need to be happy with yourself first & foremost before you can be happy with someone else. It took me years to figure that out - I like myself now, not so sure I used to. (The only thing I don't like about myself is my weight problem!!! Unfortunately, I've always felt that it is my identity, who I am. I still struggle with that.)

    I really can't envision myself in another relationship...I just want to take care of & be responsible for me.
    • CommentAuthorBruce *
    • CommentTimeMay 22nd 2015
    reading your latest blogs brings about a good point. When your spouse passes or is permanently moved to a long term care facility, your life makes a dramatic change. Almost overnight you are single meaning you are immediately no longer a team of two. Even though you may not yet be a widow, the other half of the team has vanished and you are left to make every decision alone which includes how do you cope? For me it was bouncing off the walls and fortunately I had both close family and a pet who was beside me 24/7, Every where I went the dog was there and she helped me hold myself together-short term. After several months I realized that some things that had been put aside due to caring for my DW needed to be addressed and so I addressed them one at a time. My DW did not spend anytime away from me and died at home in her bed with me at her side. And I can honestly say that even though we had been married 50 years her passing was a blessing from God. I was relieved that she was no longer suffering even though I missed her terribly- it was what as best for her and my feeling of loss did not count. Now I had to deal with what was left of me-ALONE. Now that I am in a relationship with a great lady I can honestly say that God had HIS hand in everything that took place. It is my faith that made all this happen. My strength was from HIM and I know that anything that happens in the future is because of faith. Some day I too will pass and if it happened this very minute I know that everything that has happened over the last four years was right for me and that my happiness and life changes were the right ones for the right reasons. We cannot ponder our future because if we are not willing to take a step then we really have no future, The baby steps we take are what used to be called trial and error or testing the waters much like what we did when we first committed to our spouse. We did not know what the future would bring but we were willing to take on a spouse and see where it went and now that that spouse is not here to share our life we need to start over-some place somewhere and not just tread water.

    just saying
    all my love to all of you
    And my love to you, Bruce! I'm so happy that you can be happy again!
    Wise words, Bruce. Thank you.
    • CommentAuthorAmber
    • CommentTimeJun 1st 2015
    I guess if you have lost yourself then you would need time to find yourself again.

    I always made sure over the years that I kept me and didn't lose who I really was when raising kids and being a wife. So even though I am going through the years of dealing with this disease I have kept who I am alive.