Surviving Spouse Corner: Finding a New Normal

Surviving Spouse Corner: Finding a New Normal
Pictured at a 2019 MOAA event, from left: then-Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee Chair Anne Hartline, MOAA Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Regina Chavis, and then-committee members Patricia Farnsworth, Barbara Smith, Capt. Kathy Thorp, USN (Ret), and Micki Costello. (Photo by Lloyd Beard/for MOAA)

It’s been a long time since I became a surviving spouse, and during that time, I’ve gone through many stages. None were easy, but all were necessary. No journey out of grief is straight forward. We all handle it differently, and it’s how we deal with it that makes a difference.


We must choose to be positive and live or be unhappy the rest of our lives. I chose to be positive, but I also realized that I needed to find a purpose.


When my husband died at the age of 57, I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. I became aware that my path forward was to do what I could to make sure no other survivor felt as alone and unprepared as I was. To that end, I joined my local MOAA chapter, took on the job as their surviving spouse liaison, was appointed to the national MOAA’s Surviving Spouse Advisory Council, and became active in the Surviving Spouse Virtual Chapter.


[RELATED: More About MOAA's Virtual Chapters]


I also found not only a mentor but a dear friend because of a chance meeting in 2015. Patricia “Pat” Farnsworth shared her vast knowledge of surviving spouse issues, her wisdom, and her wonderful sense of humor. She encouraged me to do the best I believed I could be — and then pushed for more. Pat died on Oct. 14 at age 86. She was an inspiration to many and a friend to all.


We will never forget our loved ones. We will always miss them. But I have found peace and comfort in my new normal. I hope you find the same.


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About the Author

Barbara Smith
Barbara Smith

Barbara Smith is first vice chair of MOAA's Surviving Spouse Advisory Council.