Suffering the death of a spouse or significant other is one of the toughest things many of us must go through. While heartbreaking at any age, it can be especially trying in the post-retirement years. Intense loneliness and general feelings of being alone in the world are not at all uncommon. They are so controlling in many elderly, in fact, the Archives of Internal Medicine, a JAMA Network publication, released a study in 2012 revealing the surprising side effects of loneliness in this age group, including significant depletion of physical capabilities and an overall decline in health.
The unfortunate thing for many is that these feelings of loneliness and isolation aren’t restricted only to loss due to death; they also come with divorce and betrayal, increasing the likelihood of encountering such an experience. The important thing, says Victoria D. Schmidt, author of the new book, Finding Solitary Contentment: Ways to Handle Grief and Embrace a New Life, is understanding that you’re not alone.
“When I lost my husband and love of my life after 58 years of marriage,” says Schmidt, “I never thought I would be content again, but I am and you can be, too.”
Schmidt is also the author of Remembering the Loved One You Lost as You Walk the Lotus Gardens(an accompanying volume of inspirational readings), in which she advises mourners to grieve, cry, and talk as long as it takes; but she wants you to remember that there comes a time when you must let go of the grief and move forward with the business of living.
“I was devastated by the loss of my husband,” she explains. “But, I see life from a positive viewpoint. Focusing on the grief prolongs the period of grieving, causing more pain, and delays the challenge of moving on and embracing a new life… alone or with someone new.”
For this reason, you’ll likely notice something very different about Schmidt’s book than other grief books in the same category. “Most grief-help books dwell on the painful aspects of losing someone,” adds Schmidt. “I devote one chapter to the negatives and then go on and recommend ways to renew one’s spirit and offer methods to embrace new lives while keeping happy memories of a lost loved one.”
Schmidt reassures her readers that “embracing new lives” doesn’t necessarily mean fulfilling a requirement to find someone new to love. “Finding another significant other is the subject of one of the chapters, as is considering alternative relationships,” she explains. “However, the message in my book is far broader and is about finding happiness and contentment.”
One of the best things about Schmidt’s offering? Its appeal and applicability are not limited to women. “Though I began by writing for women, since, of course, I am a woman,” she notes, “men have told me they, too, have benefited from my suggestions. As a result, I analyzed the information in my book and find that about 90 percent is helpful for both sexes.”
Victoria D. Schmidt had a long and illustrious career including being a fashion editor at Woman’s Day magazine in New York City, and serving as the Director of Tourism for the State of New Jersey where she was credited with selecting, promoting and marketing their most successful New Jersey tourism campaign: New Jersey & You Perfect Together. She is also the author of Triumph in Exile and today lives in New Jersey with her gentle whippet, Dominque.