Becoming a widow or widower is not part of your dream retirement plans. After all, spending extra time enjoying life with your spouse or partner is one of the perks of retirement. However, if you find yourself grieving your spouse during this time, you can find a dash of comfort in knowing that you do not have to face retirement alone. Instead, there are ways to find connection and stability in new ways without ever losing the love you shared with your spouse.
Start with Finances
You and your spouse carefully planned for living on a fixed income during your retirement years. Whether you were involved in the smaller details of the financial planning or just familiar with the overall view, now is the time to ensure your careful planning continues to pay off. Make an appointment with your financial advisor to get the expert guidance you need to make your budget last. Your financial advisor can also help you determine how to best use any money you may receive from Social Security or your spouse’s pension.
If you are wary about going to your financial advisor alone, enlist the help of a trusted family member or friend. They can attend the appointment with you, take notes, and offer an extra set of ears.
Though keeping up with the daily and seasonal traditions you and your spouse shared can feel sad, continuing with these traditions can actually help you feel connected to your spouse and give you something to look forward to. Try to continue with your favorite hobbies and travel to your favorite destinations as much as you feel up to it.
However, you can also give yourself some leeway and not stick to every part of your tradition. Invite a best friend to hike your favorite trail to look at the changing autumn leaves, or skip the romantic beach vacation location and instead choose to rent a large house in the same town to share with your kids and grandkids.
Try Something New
Facing retirement alone can feel scary and overwhelming. Bolster your self-confidence by stepping out of your comfort zone to try something new. Whether you choose to finally take that cycling exercise class or try your hand at pottery, trying something new can lead to new connections, memories, and experiences in retirement. Don’t worry; you don’t have to try something new alone (unless you want to). Invite a friend, neighbor, or family member to try it out with you.
Adults in retirement are already vulnerable to health complications that can come from feelings of perceived loneliness. Needless to say, losing a spouse increases those feelings of loss and loneliness. Though you cannot replace the relationship you and your partner shared, you can continue to find connections with friends.
Finding new friends during retirement doesn’t have to be difficult or cumbersome. Instead, focus on creating connections by sharing experiences. Attend a book club with some new faces, strike up a conversation while birding at your favorite spot, or attend an outdoor concert with neighbors. Shared experiences can be the building blocks to a new friendship.
Join a Community
If senior living wasn’t already in your retirement plans, consider it now. Independent and assisted living communities are busy places full of new neighbors, engaging events, and planned trips. Even better, you don’t have to worry about learning how to cook for one when you can just head downstairs to enjoy a delicious meal with your friends in the dining room. Senior living also means you can skip worrying about household tasks like mowing the lawn or snow removal, choosing instead to take a dip in the pool or attend an on-site yoga class.
At Arbor communities across the country, widows and widowers have found a fresh approach to retirement as well as a network of friendly neighbors and caring staff members. Facing retirement alone isn’t an option in Arbor communities; when you call our communities home, you become part of our extended family.
Learn more about independent living and what to expect by downloading our free resource, “Everything You Need to Know About Independent Living.”