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Living Well after Retirement: Dealing with Grief

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Mature woman trying to comfort an older man.

Everyone deals with the loss of a loved one differently.

If you’ve recently lost a spouse, you may find that your children or grandchildren express their grief by trying to take care of you—hovering for a time, trying to make sure that you’re kept busy, or that all of your slightest wants and needs are taken care of.


While you are allowing your family to deal with their feelings of loss by trying to assist you, however, you may find it no easier to cope with your own grief, and loss can feel particularly sharp during the holiday season, so make sure that you’re giving yourself time out this winter in order to remember and grieve.

We don’t, as the old wisdom would have us believe, go through particular stages of grief. We carry on after the loss of a loved one with ups and downs—laughter one day and tears the next—but the good news is that the heartbreak doesn’t have to last forever.

Consider Joining a Support Group

Talk to your hovering friends or family; let them know how you are feeling and what they can do to help.

But when it seems like all the people telling you over and over “I’m so sorry, I can’t imagine how you are feeling,” just might drive you mad, hearing from others who have experienced the same kind of loss may be just what you need.

You can find grief support groups in many places throughout the Greater Cincinnati area

  • Community centers
  • Church groups
  • Online groups
  • One on one counseling

It’s important to note, however, that not everyone needs counseling or therapy to deal with their grief, but you shouldn’t ever feel ashamed of looking for the support you need to help you cope.

Cultivate New Interests

Participating in meaningful activities that fill your time can help you find joy in life again.

If going through the motions of activities that you shared with your partner is a painful thought, now may be the time to take up new hobbies.

Activities that put you in low-stress social settings are a good place to start.

  • Look for local groups that offer activities like nature walks, wine tastings, or classic movie nights where you can meet others with similar interests.
  • Join a book club, gym, or fitness center
  • Attend lifelong learning classes at a local college or church

Go Traveling

Shutting yourself away can be tempting, but it’s important that you get back out and rediscover your zest for life when you’re ready.

There are often support groups, retirement groups, or church groups that offer widowed or single individuals the chance to get away for a little while. You'll have the opportunity to meet folks who, like yourself, are looking to find the good life and make the most of their golden years.

Redecorate the House

Walking into your home day after day and seeing sharp reminders of your loss may take a toll on you after a while, so it may be time for a refresh.

You do not necessarily have to start from scratch, but painting the walls or rearranging the furniture can help exorcise heavy memories. If you do decide on a major overhaul, now would be a great time to look into the aging in place renovations that can keep you safe at home as you get older or you might just find that moving into a retirement community could be a welcome change at this time in your life.

Don’t Be Afraid to Date Again

While remembering the good times with your spouse can be a comfort, companionship also plays a significant role in living well. So don’t feel as though you are dishonoring their memory by dating again.

Once, or if, you reach a point where you decide that you may want to seek out a new romantic relationship, you have plenty of options.

There are plenty of online dating sites, like the one run by AARP, that cater specifically to seniors or widowed people. Also, many retirement communities and senior centers have separate events set up to give widowed people the opportunity to mingle. 

Worried about a loved one?  Download our tipsheet to decide if it's time to talk about senior care.
Bryan Reynolds
January 09, 2014
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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