Barbara Fradkin – FLORIDA TODAY

Q: I just lost my spouse after 37 years. How do I learn to live alone again?

A:  I am so sorry for your loss. Because the two of you shared so much together, losing a life partner can feel like you have lost a piece of yourself. Taking time to process your emotions is the first step in moving forward. It’s also a time to be gentle with yourself and ask for help if you need it. In many traditional marriages, women may have relied on their husbands to look after the car, do the yard work, and take care of the finances. Men might have looked to their wives to do the laundry, cook the meals, and do the grocery shopping. Being alone at this stage in life isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But there is a learning curve.

After you lose a spouse or partner:

  • Don’t rush. Spontaneous decisions made right after a loss may turn into regrets. Begin organizing your affairs, with an emphasis on what you need to do right now.
  • Learn to shop and cook for one. Use a list when grocery shopping to avoid over purchasing. Publix BOGO’s can be a great deal, but how much ketchup does one person need? Classes on cooking for one are a fun way to learn an important skill for self-care.
  • Plan for YOU. Who will take care of you when you are sick? Who will you call if you have a medical emergency?
  • Learn about your survivor benefits. Talk to your financial planner, attorney or VA representative. What about taxes and probate?
  • Need help with the computer? Senior Centers and clubs offer resources to learn and improve your computer skills.
  • Join a support group. Faith communities, hospice organizations and others offer grief support groups, where you can talk with other people on a similar journey. Emotional healing starts with learning how to express your feelings.

It takes time to fully absorb the impact of a major loss. Mourning is very personal and may last months or even years. As the pain slowly eases, your life will go on. If you are struggling right now, join me on October 26th for the start of a three-part series, Living Well After Loss. Our experts will discuss how to address many of the challenges I’ve mentioned in this column. Call me at 321-751-6771 in Viera for more information –or if you just need to talk. The years ahead may be some of the best of your life.

One Senior Place is a marketplace for resources and provider of information, advice, care and on-site services for seniors and their families. Questions for this column are answered by professionals in nursing, social work, care management and in-home care. Send questions to, call 321-751-6771 or visit One Senior Place, The Experts in Aging.

Barbara Fradkin is a Social Worker and a Certified Care Manager for One Senior Place in Viera.