Surviving Spouse Corner: Finding Your Path After Losing Your Spouse

Surviving Spouse Corner: Finding Your Path After Losing Your Spouse
Photo by Tara Moore/Getty Images/Stock

When you lose your spouse, you often face lifestyle questions that need to be answered. Do I stay in my home? Should I move closer to my children? Should I go back to work? Should I start volunteering?


Like others, when I lost my husband 20 years ago, I needed to address those questions.


My situation was different than some because my mother, who was 94 at the time, had been living with us for 13 years. She wasn’t keen on moving, which meant we weren’t going anywhere.


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When she passed away four years later, I decided to get back to work. But my home wouldn’t remain empty for long.


Soon after my mother’s death, my older sister retired and wanted to move in with me. She relocated from California to my home in Virginia. She stayed two years and then moved to Colorado, where she had wanted both of us to move initially.


Was that the end of my roommate revolving door? Far from it: Next came my grandson and his best friend for what was supposed to be a six-month stay while one found a job and the other finished school. Instead, one stayed with me for two years and the other for six. I learned living with young boys was much different than raising my three daughters.


Next came my daughter and son-in-law, who wanted to relocate from the Washington, D.C., area after retiring. They have been here for going on five years.




Do I miss my privacy sometimes? Of course. I’m sure my housemates also miss theirs from time to time. But it’s been a very good fit.


There are pros and cons to an open-door policy — what has worked for me and my family in recent decades might not be ideal for you. But I believe life has a way of leading us to where we’re meant to be — and in this case, it’s kept me in my home.


Evidently, that is what I always wanted.


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About the Author

Barbara Smith
Barbara Smith

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