It’s my first protest! My writer’s group and I marched in Walnut Creek, CA, a conservative suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area. Over 10,000 people filled the streets in “a suburb known more for shopping and restaurants than for protests.” Someone was handing out signs which is how I wound up holding that one with my writer friend. We owned that sign. Sort of.
The march was fantastic. Empowering. Exciting. Astonishing in its numbers. Reassuring that so many people turned out. Heart-warming in all the different causes represented.
And then the hard part, going home to a house without my George.
That’s one of the hardest parts of this journey, you never know when you’ll be hit by feelings of loss. My life is fuller than it used to be. But my house is still empty of its other inhabitant. And it catches me by surprise sometimes.
My day was busy with attending the march, then attending a memorial for a friend’s mother, I hadn’t made evening plans. But, when coming home to an empty house feels bad, here’s a few suggestions:
5 Tips for Coming Home to an Empty House:
- Having Something to Look Forward to: I like to have something I’m looking forward to doing at home. It may just be a series I’m binge-watching (currently Grey’s Anatomy, I missed it the first time round) and something I’m looking forward to eating. If I want chocolate cake and martinis, they’re waiting for me. (Kale and broccoli, not so much).
- Virtually Connecting: I can text or call with friends or family so I don’t feel so alone. A girlfriend and I are planning her birthday party, so when I come home to an empty house and feel lonely, I can give her my ideas and schedule our next planning meeting. After the March, I called my step-mom to talk. She was an activist when she was in medical school (and after), but lacked the stamina for the march. She was glad to know she’d been there in spirit.
- Loving Your Home: Shortly after George died, I remodeled my master bathroom. Life pretty much sucked at that point, but walking into a beautiful master bath made me feel a teeny bit more hopeful. I could feel him in the colors and textures I’d chosen. I had my non-working fireplace resuscitated and converted to gas so I could run it on “Spare the Air” days so the living room felt inviting. My current splurges are warm things that cheer me up in all this winter darkness. I’ve been buying blue faux fur pillows and fluffy white area rugs on Overstock.com. (Blushing face emoji.)
- Perspective: My old chestnut, but so many women I know would love to have their own space and time to do whatever they want. I know people who feel ambivalent about their marriages. For a lot of people, being married isn’t necessarily better. We widowed folk can be grateful (sorry, another chestnut) for the time we did have with the person we loved. It’s another phase, and not one we wanted, but I’m starting to feel like the love we had still lasts in some ways.
- Accepting Change: My poor boyfriend. Okay, sometimes he’s a problem, but, between you and me and WordPress, sometimes my complaint is that he’s just not George. George was a born nurturer with awesome manners and a fabulous cook and…etc. We don’t always have to be alone, but we do have to accept that any new person will be different than our first beloveds. And that is hard. I was tired after my big day on Saturday and not up for going out. My boyfriend came over with take-out pho to watch a movie. It can be amazing to feel comfortable with someone new. And that can sustain me on nights I’d rather not be alone. (Or it can make me look forward to a night by myself with Season One of Grey’s).
- Scheduling Evening Activities: I do evening yoga and so do several of my friends, giving me an activity to look forward to. It also helps to have less time to wallow if I’m feeling sad. I scheduled too many evening activities I didn’t enjoy after George died, and those, Rotary Club dinners and a women’s group where I related to very few people, felt worse than staying in. If something doesn’t work, reward yourself for trying. I also tried a part-time job working in a bookstore. As a cranky introvert, I got along best with the books and checked retail off my list.
Loneliness is one of my big themes. If you have any ways you deal with it, please comment so we can all learn. I got some awesome comments after my last post on why some single women have given up on men AND all the comments were kind. Thank you so much.
Thee best tweet I saw, “Thank you Women’s March for taking us from hopeless to empowered when we most needed it.”