Charity Director, Age UK
Growing older can have has its challenges, such as coming to terms with bereavement. Older people need support as they face these challenges. It is up to charity, the government and communities to offer that support.
Living a long time comes with a wealth of wonderful moments. People can see their families grow, make many memories with their loved ones and have more time to visit the places they have always wanted to see.
However, one of the downsides of living a long time is that people may outlive their partners, siblings and closest friends.
Bereavement goes with the territory in later life but that doesn’t make it any easier. It is not one of those things that we necessarily ‘get better at’ or ever completely come to terms with as we age.
Each experience of bereavement is different, and everyone reacts in their own way, but even when a death is no real surprise and we think we are as ‘prepared’ for it as we can be, it may still really affect us.
Not having someone to share your bed with, have a laugh with, or seek advice from – even argue with sometimes – can feel very lonely.
This may be more likely when an older couple is separated by the death of one of them; causing an abrupt end to a relationship that has endured for many years and feels so natural that neither can remember what it was like to live without the other.
Apart from the resulting sadness and grief, there may also be more practical consequences, such as loss of access to a car if one partner was the one that did the driving, or suddenly finding oneself confronted with jobs that the other always did– like paperwork, finances or cooking.
But perhaps, above all it, can be the shock of coming to terms with living alone. Not having someone to share a bed with, have a laugh with, or seek advice from – even argue with sometimes – can be very isolating. It is no surprise therefore that one in six people who are widowed say they often feel lonely.
This is why, this year, Age UK is spotlighting the impact of bereavement as part of our annual ‘No one should have no one to turn to’ awareness raising campaign.
How Age UK can help you – or a loved one – in times of need
Age UK is here for any older person who needs someone to turn to, every day of the year. Our information and advice line will even be open 365 days a year – including Christmas Day – and, who knows, perhaps we will receive a call from someone who has been widowed this year – something affecting an estimated 170,000 older people in total in this country.
Whether it’s a practical problem or something much more personal, our advisers will listen attentively, respond kindly and do their utmost to help.
Please support us so we can continue to make a difference to every older person who needs us in this very special way, those with no one else to turn to above all.