I also have had a great deal of time to reflect on the world around me and some of which affects my personal life. At Ernie's Celebration of Life, I had so many people come up and tell me they'd be there for me. His best friend phoned and said not to worry he would always be here to help me and I am sure Ernie had asked him to watch out for me to a degree as we were close friends. I felt such relief and knew I could go on without my beloved Ernie, but as the months passed by slowly family and friends began to dwindle and the help, some invites dwindled down to nothing. Now it's hand out, pay me. I never thought I would ever be in this mess. I don't expect anyone to do something for me such as fix something in my home without giving something back, but now when something needs fixing I basically have to get a professional in to do it if I can't do it myself. Where did family and friends go ... on with their own lives and that brings me to the post that was left about 'how did our parents and grandparents handle grief.' Back in the day there was honor and compassion and it was automatic that when one became a widow family took over in most cases. Family and neighbors helped a widow/widower out (I know, my brother and I cut lawns and shoveled snow for some widows and also the elderly in our neighborhood and we never took money for it.) Now, when I held out $20 to have my lawn mowed (not a lot of grass) or snow shoveled the kids today look like you're out of your mind and just walk by.
I suppose family and friends feel that after 5 1/2 years I should be well on my way, but at my age and living in a small rancher where I want to stay if I can it's hard work. They have it backwards and don't realize many of us still need our family around us and yes, our old friends. Sometimes I get very angry at the friends Ernie and I have known for 20 - 40 years and how much we helped them in their times of need and now I struggle on my own. I have become very independent and whatever is meant to be is. I suppose it strengthens our character, but to be honest it leaves me feeling adrift wondering with each problem where I will find the help. It saddens my heart that most families aren't that supportive to some degree and old friends disappear now that you are not a couple. There are no excuses for this as I've thought it out very carefully. Both Ernie and I worked, we had responsibilities, but always made time for family and friends, so what's changed?
Marsha, I believe that a lot of families have changed. The dynamics of my family changed. Some of that is on me. I chose to leave my hometown at 16 to go to college. Basically, I never returned "home". I occasionally visited for holidays, special events, and at times when immediate and close family members were ill. I hosted many holidays at my home so that many immediate family members visited for Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. However, I chose to live 6 hours away. I lost contact with many friends and seldom saw many of my extended family members. It got to the point when I only saw extended family at funerals.
Granted, I had a life here. My husband and I worked hard and played hard. My children were raised here. I have friends here and professionals that I depend upon.
In contrast, my Mother's 4 sisters all lived a short distance from each other. Her 4 brothers came in at least once a year when they held an annual immediate family reunion. My Father was one of 12 siblings. All of his siblings lived within an hour of my Dad. Some of the siblings lived next door to each other. All of his family got together twice a year for Christmas (which Mom hosted) and Memorial Day at the old family farm. Each of my parents got together with some of their siblings on a regular basis. We had a family village looking out for and taking care of each other. Everyone was a phone call away and at your doorstep the moment you needed them.
My parents built their house in 1940. One uncle did the plumbing, one uncle did the electrical, a few uncles did the brickwork, etc. The only thing hired out was the foundation for the basement. This amazes me today but it is how things were done then. I remember only a couple of times when Dad hired help and that was towards the end of his 94 years of life. If he needed help, a family member or two would come over and help get it done.
My cousins would still do anything for me (as I would for them) but I am not close by. I now visit more often and love to see them. We also talk on the phone. A few of us get together for a couple of days at a WV resort once a year. I can count on them for moral support and a loving ear.
I am fortunate that I do have people nearby that I can count on. I have friends, neighbors, and children that would be here quickly if needed. The difference is it is a much smaller village.
I hope and pray that each of us can create a village. Prayers and hugs are with you sweetie. Debbie
Marsha.....I'm so sorry you have to deal with this isolation. People tend to think that after the first couple months that widows/widowers are okay enough and don't need to be checked on. It's only after they're in this boat that they realize how wrong they were. I will say not everyone is like this. One of my good friends, Brian, takes care of the 2 widows property on his street especially during the winters. He always makes sure they're driveways and walkways are clear. I know I'll be able to count on him.
One of Ken's sayings was that he may not have a lot of money but he was a millionaire when it came to friends. And it was true. He had probably 30-40 close friends that he could call at anytime day or night to help him and they did. During those last few months they helped him a lot while he closed his business and moved a bunch of things from his shop to our garage. They did it all, he just pointed. Now I think I've gotten one "obligatory" call per person and despite all of them saying they'll be here for me for whatever I need, only maybe 2 or 3 of them check in regularly to see if I need help at the house. I imagine I could call any of them and they would be here but if they're this out of touch now, 5 years from now they won't even be an option. I too will be paying for lawn service and probably anything else I need to have done.
I will continue to pray for God to lead you down a path filled kind new friends. And if there happens to be a nice gentleman there, all the better.
Deb ... Thank you for the sweet post you left me. You are indeed very lucky. Both sets of parents have passed away; Ernie's brother Ken in 1975, another brother in 2015 and no on left there. My brother and his wife are reclusive as far as having friends over so it was passed onto their two boys who don't socialize much either. I was more like my father and I am very extroverted, love laughter, fun and good humor and was always the glue in the family, but our family is so small now and the glue just ain't stickin' anymore. LOL Thanks for the encouragement and I sure need it.
Carol ... Thanks my dear friend for the offer and you'll be getting an email soon.
Sara ... You are so kind to answer my post with prayers considering you have your own raw grief to go through and I truly appreciate it. I know there are good people out there, but try finding them. Ernie and I had lots of friends, but once he passed away it only took a year with some friends and 2 for others that that slowly went their own way in their private lives. It does hurt and I'm not about to go after those who don't even call to see if I'm still breathing to help me. I think it's very appalling. Friends are friends and it's not like we're asking them to be fused at the hip or bother them that much. The year or two that passes people automatically think you've got your life together and everything is OK. They simply don't get it until it happens to them.
Thank you for your precious prayers Sara and I appreciate it. I pray as well for all of you and that God leads me in the right direction, but sometimes I'm wondering if he's listening to me.