Dear Annie: I'm a man with a very difficult problem. My deceased wife and I separated. I was halfway through a six-month cancer treatment when she left. After a few days, she called and told me that she had made the biggest mistake of her life by leaving me. However, she would not return home. I got tired of the everyday battle with the chemo, so I went to my dad's.
He, my wife and I talked often and even met to spend time together. While all this was going on, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and wanted to be with her family in her final days. I agreed, and she went back to her hometown. We talked periodically, and I knew she was very ill but did not know that she was so close to death. She passed away in 2018.
My problem is that I still love her. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of her. I live alone and have friends but I don't have a close relationship with a woman. I miss that very much. What am I to do? I'm still young enough to fall in love again. -- Missing Love
Dear Missing: I am very sorry for your loss. There is life before you lose someone you love deeply, and life after. And you, my friend, are living in the after.
While I can't take away your pain, I can suggest a few things that might help. For starters, find a support group for people who have lost spouses. Try not to be so hard on yourself. You will find love again, but you must deal with your grief first. Be patient and give yourself time to heal. You will always have memories of your wife, and, in time, you will start making new memories.
Dear Annie: I just read the letter from "Lonely Later in Life." I was going down the same path when a verse from my daughter's youth came to me, "If it's to be, it's up to me." I'm a homebody, but know that being alone all the time is not healthy. I moved to a new town and determined the move to be my new beginning. By visiting the town's website. I discovered that the library and the senior center hold many events that interest me, and decided to join a group at the library that met every two weeks to work on handcrafts. I attended every meeting and sat next to someone different each time. When COVID-19 caused us to cancel our gatherings, we continued getting together on Zoom. We all look forward to that time of visiting online, sharing the projects we are working on and talking about what we might do when we are once again free to socialize.
Something else that has helped me meet people is to go for a daily walk around the neighborhood. I force myself to be the first one to say hello to everyone I meet, and it makes me feel good to see them smile. Now, we look forward to seeing each other if only for that hello. Some have stopped to talk for a few moments, especially if they have pets or children and I comment about the sweet dog or the happy child, or even the beautiful day. Always remember, "If it's to be, it's up to me!"
I hope that "Lonely Later in Life" can find small ways to feel Happier Later in Life. -- It Starts with Hello
Dear Hello: Thank you for the reminder that a simple friendly greeting is all that's needed to make someone's day -- and perhaps to make a friend.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book -- featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to email@example.com.