Dealing with Mid-life and 'Golden Years' Separation

6 tips to move on with life after separation

Posted: Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Dolly Parton spelled it out perfectly in her classic country tune: D-I-V-O-R-C-E. It's an ugly word that seems to have found a regular place in the English language. With the United State's divorce rate at 50% and steadily increasing, it's a sure bet that you know a couple going through a divorce right now. What you may not know is there are more people over 50 getting divorced than ever before, leaving a large percentage of the Baby Boomer generation, 21.4% of our total population, starting over at life's halfway point.

We are conditioned to believe life, for the most part, stops after a certain age. From Desperate Housewives and Friends to Sex and the City, we love to peek into and examine the lives and loves of the young and early Baby Boomers. We are fascinated by their love lives, cry at their tragedies and laugh at the curveballs life throws them. But the reality is, we are facing a Golden Girls era, where our population of 50, 60 and 70 year olds are finding themselves alone again, having to pick up and start their lives over to struggle between risking change or opting for the safety and security of the status quo.

While the resources for helping the younger generation face this harsh reality are abundant, the fifty and over do not have much. Until now.

Certified counselor, Rayne E. Golay, author of Life Is A Foreign Language, which offers a poignant look at upper and middle age America and starting over at life's halfway point, can offer the plus fifty generation 6 easy tips to ensure starting over after divorce or loss can be a smoother transition into a better mindset and life:

1. How to get used to sleeping alone again and avoid sleepless nights. If possible, rearrange your bedroom to make it your space. There is nobody in that bed to hug you anymore, the bed is like a vast ocean so take a big soft pillow to bed; it's huggable, against your back, it's warm. If you can't change the bed, get a set of sheets. Smell is the most powerful memory-provoking sense: buy new pillows; use another washing powder from the times you were a couple. Make a point of sleeping in the middle of the bed, not on the edge the way you used to.

2. Learn how to eat alone and feel good about it. Few things look as forlorn as a table set for one. Prepare your meal on a tray with a lit candle, flower, and pretty napkin. In the early days after the separation/divorce, avoid restaurants and cafes you used to frequent as a couple. It's all right to eat out alone; start by having breakfast or lunch before you try dinner on your own. People will not pay particular attention to a man or woman having dinner on her own; lots of people travel for their job, you can be one of them.

3. Deal with your pent up anger. Anger is a healthy response, deal with it before it deals with you; anger suppressed often turns to outright depression. Work with a therapist who can help you express anger in a safe and harmless manner. Learn some relaxation techniques. Regular meditation is excellent, it slows down metabolism, heart rate, helps you deal with stress.

4. Work with your children to help them get through this tough time. Tell them as much as about the reasons you divorced you think they need to know. Don't blame your spouse. S/he is the children's parent; it doesn't serve you to speak ill of somebody they love. Accept that they may be angry at you for the divorce. Accept that they love your spouse.

5. Deal with feeling alone, don't avoid it. Take up a hobby, like bridge, golf, anything that will get you out of the house and in contact with people. Consider working with a therapist for awhile or taking spiritual counseling. Give small dinner parties at home; preparing food for friends is an act of love that will help fill the gap, and it doesn't have to be an expensive five-course dinner, an inexpensive well-prepared meal will do. Participate actively in your children and grandchildren's interests. Get massages regularly. Don't try to drown your loneliness and sorrow in alcohol; problems learn quickly how to swim, and you'll be left with a hangover and remorse.

6. When the time feels right, start dating. There are singles clubs and bars. At first, go with a friend. Sign up with some singles sites on the Internet. Do a Google search for a dating service in your area. Contact them and see what they offer. A singles cruise may be an answer. Ask other divorced people how they do it.

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