Life

Ask Fiona: Two years after my divorce I still feel so lonely and depressed

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her advice on feeling lonely after a divorce, and moving on after the death of a partner

A divorce can be painful for both people – start new hobbies, join a gym or just go out walking to take your mind off it and you will begin to pick up the pieces

I've been divorced for two years and I haven't had another relationship since I separated from my husband; as much as I'd love another partner, it just doesn't seem to happen for me.

When my partner walked out, it was a huge shock and I still can't forgive him for what he's done. Most of my friends are in relationships of their own, so going out with them isn't always possible and I feel so depressed at the thought of spending my life alone again. Even though my children and grandchildren visit, I still can't help feeling like nobody wants me.

I'm not a bad person and I'm not bad looking either, but I'm 49 and feel that I am on the road to being sad and lonely for the rest of my life.

RV

FIONA SAYS: Please don't give up like this. I know it must be difficult to stay positive when you feel this way, but if you present yourself as a sad and miserable person, you're not going to be attractive to others.

It is hard to make a new relationship happen but sometimes the harder you try, the more difficult it becomes – especially if prospective partners see you as too keen or even desperate. Rather than concentrate on starting a new relationship, make sure you've got things in place in order to move on first.

Start by getting the basics in order; put away photographs and file papers so they're not a constant reminder of the past. Make sure your finances are completely independent too, and change your online passwords to phrases your ex doesn't know and can't guess – you don't want him monitoring what you're up to.

Why not change and update your image? The way you look – your hair, clothes and makeup – can be a fun way to reflect the new you and your new life. Take a few risks. I don't mean put yourself in danger, but take a holiday somewhere on your own or with a group of people you don't know, to somewhere different and surprising.

Now is the time to try something new, so open yourself up to adventures you might not have even considered before. Start new hobbies, join a gym or just go out walking. All this change and activity will keep you busy and give you lots to talk about in the future with possible dates. More importantly, it will help you to start believing in yourself.

At the moment, you're still sad and afraid, but you're also still quite young (potentially less than half way through your life) so you need to rethink your attitude. However resentful you may feel about your ex, you need to forgive him and move on, because carrying bitterness will only serve to poison you and damage your future relationships, too.

Appreciate who you are, and forgive yourself – especially if you think you're in any way to blame for the breakdown of your marriage. When you're ready to meet someone new, make sure your friends and family know that you're open to the idea of new relationships - they may know someone who might be interested in meeting you, but haven't been sure about suggesting it in the past.

Don't be put off by the idea of online dating, either. Thousands of people are meeting up this way. While rejection can be hard at first, try and be lighthearted about it – you'll be rejecting people too!

You may not immediately meet the person who's right for you, but getting out there will help to combat the loneliness you feel. Don't be too hard on people you meet though, give them a chance, as they may be nervous on a first date and only blossom as they get to know you.

Finally, do talk to someone – reach out to old friends and acquaintances, as I'm sure there is someone you could talk to and share your feelings with. Remember friendship is a two-way process and people like to feel that they are needed. They may all think you're happy as you are, so find someone you trust and share your feelings.

I CAN'T GET OVER MY HUSBAND'S DEATH

My husband and best friend of 30 years dropped dead in front of me and I don't think I will ever get over it. The post-mortem revealed that he had a condition that none of us knew about, and that there was absolutely nothing I could have done to save him.

I was only 17 when I married him and he was my entire life. Now that he's gone, I'm too scared to go out alone, so I just sit at home waiting for people to come and visit me. I know I can't go on like this, but I'm so numb and I don't know if I'll ever get over his death.

MG

FIONA SAYS: I'm so sorry for your traumatic loss. Right now, you're hurting too much to know what to do or which way to turn, but there are clearly people around who care for you, so don't be afraid to lean on them.

Unfortunately, I don't think that you will ever get over losing someone you were this close to. People often say that time heals all wounds, and while I don't think that's quite true, it certainly takes the edge off the pain.

When a bit of time passes, you'll start to remember the good times you had with your husband and the happiness of those memories will help you recover. There will be times when you think you can't cry on your friends shoulders any longer, but that doesn't mean you should stop grieving.

Cruse Bereavement Care (cruse.org.uk) is a bereavement charity that is there to support you too – so do please make contact with them, especially when you feel you can't burden your friends or family any more.

They offer telephone, email or face-to-face services from branches across the UK. The Cruse Northern Ireland Helpline number is 0808 808 1677.

 

MY DAUGHTER-IN-LAW SHOULD PUT HER FAMILY FIRST

My 14-year-old grandson's behaviour is really getting out of hand and I'm sure it's because his mum works away from home so much. She only really spends time with her family at weekends and I think it's the reason why my grandson has now been cautioned by the police.

I know that, as her mother-in-law, I probably shouldn't interfere, but my son is so worried. Should say something to her? Personally, I think she should give up her job and spend more time at home with the children.

CM

FIONA SAYS: This is a huge problem for your son and I can understand your anxiety, but it really isn't your place to speak to your daughter-in-law. This is something that she should really be sorting out with her husband.

Rebellious behaviour is fairly normal for teens, but that doesn't mean it's normal for the police to be involved. Both your son and his wife are clearly struggling and some professional support might be in order – maybe you could suggest they contact Family Lives (familylives.org.uk)?

As a non-judgemental organisation, their counsellors can help your grandson to reconnect with his family and perhaps steer him down a less dangerous path.

Finally, it sounds as if your daughter-in-law has a quite a high-powered career, so perhaps it's your son who should be giving up his job to spend more time with his son.

MY SISTER AND BEST FRIEND MIGHT RUIN MY WEDDING

I'm getting married in September and I'd really like my family to be at the wedding. There should be about 80 people at the hotel for the wedding itself, and even more for the evening reception.

I've asked my brothers' two daughters to be my bridesmaids, but in an ideal world, I'd ask my sister and my best friend. However, I can't see that working because the two of them cannot stand one another.

They've had some terrible arguments in the past and, although I want them both to be there, I'm worried that their feuding will spoil things. I know I could avoid the problem and only invite one of them, but then I'd have to decide which one to leave out, which I'd hate to do.

Any ideas?

VS

FIONA SAYS: I suggest you meet with them together and tell them that you'd like them both to be bridesmaids, but not at the expense of your enjoyment of your big day.

Tell them your back-up plan is to have your two nieces if they cannot promise to put their differences aside. Gauge their reactions and make your decision based on how they behave. If it's clear that they cannot at least act like grown-ups then you could still invite them both but keep them as far apart on the seating plans as possible. You have enough people attending to make this possible. I'd also ask your brother and one other trusted person to keep an eye on them. At the slightest sign of friction, they can separate them or even take them out of the room.

If these two adult women cannot sink their differences for one day and help you to enjoy your wedding, then I personally wouldn't invite either of them.

If you have a problem and you'd like Fiona's advice, email help@askfiona.net

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