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Need A Purpose in Life.
Posted: Friday, December 19, 2014 12:47 PM
Joined: 9/12/2012
Posts: 1267

My husband died October 4.  Before that, I had a purpose.  When I graduated from college, I went to work as a teacher.  Did that for 39 years until I retired.  Part of my reason for retiring was that my DH had been diagnosed with AD two years previously and he could not work any we both retired at the same time.  Everything was good for the first 3 years...we could travel....he could stay alone at home......  Then as the AD worsened, no more traveling and no more staying alone.   I kept him at home and had someone come in 5 hours M-F so I could go to exercise class and run errands. He was 68 when he died.  I am 65. 


So.....I always had a purpose....go to school, go to work, take care of DH.  Now that he has passed away, I feel at loose ends.  I still go to exercise class M-F and volunteer one day a week at a memory care unit...but it's not enough.  I just don't feel like I have a purpose in life.   Has anyone else felt this way? 

Posted: Friday, December 19, 2014 2:14 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105



I can only imagine how difficult it is to lose a spouse.  So much of your daily life is entwined together.  October is pretty recent as far as losing someone.  It takes a lot of time to adjust to this new way of living.


After my father passed away, I felt disoriented, the whole routine of caring for him, seeing him everyday, doing something everyday towards his care was an integral part of my life and what seemed like in a second was then gone.


I felt like I had no purpose, even though, I was still a wife, a mother, an employee, his care became the central purpose of my life.


Slowly, I started to emerge from feeling lost.  I missed him, I still grieved for him, but I started to re-enter life now.


It takes a long time to grieve and it really is never over, but it does soften in time.  Sometimes we try and sidestep the grieving and we don't allow ourselves that time.  I feel it is important to go through it even as much as it hurts, it's an important process in healing.  It's an individual thing and there is no time limit or timeframe.


It's good that you are doing things to keep yourself well by volunteering and exercising, but allow yourself to be patient and kind to yourself and don't expect too much of yourself, too soon.  You'll find your way.  Make your purpose, your life, and do the things you enjoy and most of all, be kind and patient with yourself.





Posted: Friday, December 19, 2014 4:03 PM
Joined: 8/22/2013
Posts: 146

Hi catlady

I totally, totally, understand what you are saying.  Everything you wrote is a duplicate of my life with my Ed.  The only difference is he passed in April and he was 78.

I also do not know my purpose.  Everyone tells me to keep busy...which I try to do, also volunteering, exercise, just fill the days without him.

The holidays have been even worse.  I feel like I am walking in a fog most of the time.  We did not have children, very little family, so I am pretty much by myself.

I also went from a career, to caregiver, to what now?

I have read we are experiencing stage 8 of AD.

I have checked with the local AD agency where I live, asking if there is any grief/support meetings for caregivers who have lost someone to this terrible disease ...but unfortunately there are none in my area.  I tried a grief support meeting, but no one had lost there loved one to AD or D..I really feel loosing someone to AD or D is really a different kind of grief experience.  

Some days I feel like I am hanging on by my fingernails, just getting through the day.

I don't have the answer, hopefully someone will weigh in and offer both of us some suggestions.



Posted: Friday, December 19, 2014 4:41 PM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 2105

Maybe something that can help is by helping others.  There are so many people in need these days, there are kids who need tutoring, there are babies in hospitals that need holding, there are dogs and cats that need fostering.  I think there are animal organizations who actually want people to walk dogs who are waiting to be adopted.


Finding something that you can offer to someone in need.  I admire you both for wanting to find a purpose so soon after you have experienced great losses.  That is the caring part of you.


I think you can go on-line and find different volunteer programs, you can google VolunteerMatch and see all of the organizations who are looking for help and volunteers.  I have a friend who had a different kind of loss.  Her husband left her after 37 years of marriage, her children are grown and have lives of their own and she is alone.  She goes on-line and finds different volunteer groups and does this.  She makes cards to send to soldiers so that they have cards to send their families while they are fighting overseas.  She also volunteers for St. Vincent de Paul's a charity organization.  If you knit, if you sew, there are people who are homeless and can use warm hats and blankets. My sibling knits hats for Vets who have come back from the war and are in the hospital. 


There are senior centers who always need help and assistance, there is Meal on Wheels and they are looking for volunteers to help deliver meals to senior who can't get around.


This can be a way of developing new friendships with people and take the edge off of the aloneness.  I know it can feel like hitting a brick wall after caring for someone for so long and keeping up such an active and intensive pace and then losing them.  It's like what do I do now? 


I wish you both the very best.  Just reading your posts, I have a feeling your caring hearts will find the purpose you are looking for.  Take care.





Posted: Sunday, December 21, 2014 12:14 PM
Joined: 9/12/2012
Posts: 1267


We are very much alike.  We didn't have any children, either.  My brother is 12 years older than I am and lives in Atlanta.  I live in Virginia.  Although I do go to exercise class 5 days a week and volunteer, it just doesn't seem to help at this point.  I still feel like I'm in a boat whose rudder is broken and I'm just going around in circles.  I went to a grief support group but I didn't feel it helped....I think because with AD, we have been grieving as our LO deteriorated. 

Posted: Monday, December 22, 2014 9:31 AM
Joined: 8/30/2012
Posts: 264

I feel the same, although it was taking care of my Mom that kept me busy until she passed in May.  I'm looking at getting my Home health Aid certification.  I volunteer at our Senior Center with the AD respite program and love it.  Taking care of Mom helped me develop the skills to communicate and enjoy patients with dementia, and I think I have found me next calling.  I'm starting after the holidays.  Never too late!  God bless you this holiday season, must be very difficult having just lost your husband.  Hugs.
Posted: Monday, December 22, 2014 3:52 PM
Joined: 9/12/2012
Posts: 1267

Getting a home health aide certification sounds interesting and might be just what I need.  Can you tell me more about it?  How long does it take to get certified?  Is it costly to do?
Posted: Friday, December 26, 2014 6:02 PM
Joined: 7/7/2013
Posts: 456

Dear Catlady -- so sorry for your loss and your loss of self as well!

Certified Nursing Assistant training is available under your State's watchful eye.  You can Google "how to be a CNA in Your State" and you can learn the state's requirements and locations (usually community colleges) that offer the course.  In MN it is usually completed in 6 - 8 weeks and requires 75 hours spent in the classroom learning about medical terminology, psychological skills, and how to help patients deal with their current conditions. Documentation procedures are commonly learned  as well, in addition to a number of other subjects including how to handle emergencies such as strokes, heart attacks, or falls.  You'll take a test and then apply for jobs.  In MN, the average CNA salary is about $25K.

Just doing the course-work may help you understand what your purpose might be (or might not be) and it could be a great way to use all the things you learned while caring for your DH.


Jo C.
Posted: Saturday, December 27, 2014 5:34 PM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 11999

I have come to feel that there seems to be a form of "PTSD" for those who have been in the trenches as caregivers for years.  Volunteering is always a great positive and we can begin to re-socialize in that manner.


There is another option that can be great, especially since you are a retired teacher.  The organization, the "American Association of University Women," is a very positive organization.


To belong, one must have a baccalaureate degree or better.  Many of the women in the organization seem to be former teachers, though they come from every walk of life.  The AAUW has chapters in every city. 


Within each chapter are sub-groups.  In my local chapter, they have a book reading group, a play readers group, a travel group, a gourmet group, a card group, a study group and so much more . . . . anyone can join any group at any time.  They have many social occasions, meet once a month and also have fund raising activities to raise money for scholarships.  Many friendships form and if anyone is ill or needs assistance, they are there for one another.


You may want to look them up and then speak to someone in your local chapter about attending a meeting or two to see if this fits for you.


Some day I will finally know what I want to be when I grow up; I'd better hurry as there is a lot more behind me than is left in front of me!



Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2015 3:02 PM
Joined: 12/18/2011
Posts: 13380


Catlady, we know each other from another forum. I feel just like you. Ray and I don't have children and no relatives close by so I do wonder what's the reason for me to go on.

I guess the reason is our animals. Someone has to care for them. I love all of them so that's what I'll do. We don't live close to a town so I can volunteer, anyway I know it's too soon-maybe later. We do have to grieve at our own pace.

Posted: Friday, February 13, 2015 9:27 PM
Joined: 7/3/2012
Posts: 75

Yes catlady. My wife of 63 years died 12 Nov. I was her caregiver for 7 years. I kept her at home until she passed.
I feel like nothing is left. I am in good health but I have lost my passion for anything.
It feels like I have used it up.
I retired from the Navy after 20 years. We raised 4 wonderful daughters. And now I
I am numb.
I will keep trying to help someone, anyone, if I can find someone who can use the help of an 83 year old man.
Wishing you the best.