A year ago, almost to the day, our 85 year old aunt lost both her two much loved children; a son of 53 and a daughter of 61. They died within 36 hours of each other. Aunty J was already a widow. Her life, in her words, is now without purpose or meaning despite having one very close friend. She says she has aged 10 years in the last year and I don’t disagree.
Since this life changing event Aunty J has been severely depressed but also very lonely. She seems unable to spend any time on her own at home. It’s been hard to keep her occupied and have any sense of purpose. I have become her main carer.
But this blog isn’t really about Aunty J; it’s about the things I have learnt that I think I need to apply to my life. These are some of the things I have learnt:
- Work as long as you can; this doesn’t necessarily mean do what you do now but find something purposeful to do and do it for as long as you can. It could be paid work but equally it could be volunteering.
- Keep as wide a circle of friends as possible, don’t rely on one close friendship.
- Have lots of hobbies but critically things you do with other people but also things that you can find joy in alone, at home.
- Always be flexible and don’t fall into the trap of having a rigid routine where you do the same thing at the same time every day.
- Read widely and extensively.
- Keep in touch with church (or whatever this means for you) as there are always people there.
- Eat well, eat a variety of food and enjoy different things (see also link to 4 above).
- Embrace change and try new things in as many aspects of your life as you can.
- Always wear clothes that are stylish and represent who you are – ignore fashion if it pleases you.
- Grow things and enjoy the cycle of nature.
- Move about – keep active – walk every day.
- Learn how to use public transport – don’t get trapped at home by an inability to drive.
- Cats make good companions and looking after them gives you purpose.
- Hug people – physical human contact is very important
Please if you have any tips do share by leaving a comment below:
I know not everyone will be able to do these things but nearly everyone will be able to do some. Aunty J, as you may have guessed, hasn’t, and her life at 85 is less for it but we are making progress in building some sort of new life for her.