Old Guys, New Chapters?

photo shows the sun rising over a lake in Louisville, Nebraska

Friends, I’ve been struck by the number of widowers in my circle—and saddened by the number who have joined this club recently. Although we learn early that mortality is universal, we each travel quite personal, individual journeys through these transitions.

I’m noticing, however, that there are things that seem to come up often as I talk with those of you who are in this spot. I may be more aware of them because of my own experiences in the two years since Cathy’s passing. Let me talk through some of these issues.

A change in goals. We may embrace major life goals as a part of a couple that suddenly do not fit our new status. One person shared with me that what had been the couple’s “forever home” was not a good fit for a single retiree; renting a small place made more sense for this individual.

Another person told me their big retirement idea—to move to a warmer place where the spouse had connections—was not going to work anymore.

In my case, the dream home we bought to make Cathy’s last years better did not make sense for me anymore (although it took me more than a year to realize this). My overall vision was changing.

A change in spending. As a result of these changing goals and plans, often household spending decreases. The survivor requires less in the way of financial resources, so legacy issues may become more prominent: assets from one chapter turn into a surplus in the next. Some of you have elected to help adult children with major purchases that made their lives better; others clarified the details of their legacy planning.

A change in retirement plans. Our status can affect our vision for retirement, too. Retirement dates might change for some. One client shared his plan to sell his home and retire early, live in a motor home, and do more traveling. Another told me he was going to ‘’unretire” and go back to work for a while. He said the days were not easy to get through without more to do.

To each their own, of course. Those of us in new—sometimes unexpected—chapters face changes and challenges. It often takes time to sort out which next steps make sense. Please know I’m here for whatever conversations or perspectives might be helpful. We know life is filled with joy and pain. I can handle connecting with your story even as you are navigating painful transitions.

Please email me or call if you would like to talk.

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