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Worrying about old age if DH dies before me

(62 Posts)
MascaraGirl Sun 12-Nov-17 16:17:10

I'm 48, DH is 56 (so 8 years between us) but I'm worrying dreadfully about how I'll cope in old age if he dies years before me. His family generally live til they're about 90, whereas mine don't (Mum died at 54, bio father died at 60) so in theory it could well be me that goes first.

We don't have children (DH has a son from his first marriage) and this makes me worry more about being lonely and isolated. Obviously in my family, Mum died young and she was the same age as her husband (my step father) so I do realise that it's not always men who die young, and also that having a partner the same age is no guarantee against disaster.

I had some counselling earlier in the year, I tend to suffer from anxiety, and I discussed this with the counsellor. She gave me some very good strategies for dealing with negative thoughts like this, and these strategies generally work, but the the worries reappear and I have to work to make them go away again.

The counsellor did point out that life and old age never bring certainties, my late mum is a case in point, and that whilst statistically women outlive men, DH would only need to do a bit better than average, and me a little worse, and there's every likelihood the gap between our deaths could actually be quite close, but there is no point in speculating because no one knows what the future holds.

If, like his father and grand father, DH makes it to 90, I'd be 82, and unlikely to have decades ahead of me. I keep trying to hold this thought.

I wonder if I need more counselling sessions, and does anyone else worry about this?

AgentProvocateur Sun 12-Nov-17 16:26:19

What are you actually worried about? Is it lack of money, or lack of friends? Either way, take steps now to meet people and build a social network so that you’re not lonely and isolated. If you live rurally, this might involve moving near a town, or somewhere drivable. There are lots of practical things you can do to mitigate against feeling lonely and isolated if your partner does die first.

User452734838 Sun 12-Nov-17 16:26:37

At the age of 48 it really is an irrational worry so you have to park it and only revisit it when it becomes a problem which in your case may be in 25/30 years time.

Wolfiefan Sun 12-Nov-17 16:28:29

Your whole life shouldn't revolve around your partner. One of you is likely to die first. But not yet!
Focus on building your own life and interests. Whatever happens you will then have a fulfilling retirement.

MascaraGirl Sun 12-Nov-17 16:31:38

Agent being lonely and isolated are the things that worry me. I have a small network of friends, which I intend to maintain, but I dread being widowed.

BlessYourCottonSocks Sun 12-Nov-17 16:37:40

I do too. DH is my absolute rock. When I'm stressed or anxious he is brilliant, and although I'm generally quite an independent and content sort of person when times are hard knowing he is there is a massive comfort to me. I sometimes think I probably love him more than anyone, even the children. We have the same kind of age gap, but I have a family who live into their 90s and he has a family that tend to die in their 60s. I dread losing him in the next few years and having to go on for 25 or 30 years without him.

Wolfiefan Sun 12-Nov-17 16:39:08

It is completely normal not to want your partner to die. I love DH and if he's away then I'm glad when he comes home again.
But I have friends and hobbies and things I like doing and places I go alone. Lots to keep me busy and active and not feeling lonely.

SecretaryBird Sun 12-Nov-17 16:42:45

I totally understand. I have exactly the same worries, my DH is 51, none of the men in his family live past 65, i am greatly worried, i cant work due to ill health, i have no income and no money, no friends and rely on him totally. We have been together 30 years and i think i will probably kill myself if he goes first. I would not be able to cope physically or mentally on my own

MascaraGirl Sun 12-Nov-17 16:44:04

Blessyourcottonsocks I'm glad someone understands where I'm coming from. How do you manage to keep your fears in check, or (like me) do your worries about about the future taint the present day?

MascaraGirl Sun 12-Nov-17 16:52:07

I sometimes think that, due to my parents' early departures, even if DH were my age or younger, I'd have similar fears, because I've seen first hand that life can throw some real curve balls at times. And given my anxiety, the 8 years between DH and I only exacerbates my fears.

Oblomov17 Sun 12-Nov-17 16:57:17

No. I don’t worry about it. What does worrying about it solve? Your anxiety means you can’t see this rationally.

What can you do about it on a practical level, to stop someone dying? Nothing. Maybe think about what it actually is that worries you. And talk to your counsellor about that. Put into place things now. Like making other friends, taking up a hobby, so you won’t be so isolated? That is a practical step.

BlessYourCottonSocks Sun 12-Nov-17 17:01:16

I don't think they taint the present day. On days when I'm feeling stressed or low they are another anxiety that I try and push aside but they are certainly something I'm conscious of being one of the things I fret about. I don't have an answer, sadly. I try and push it out my head and think "I'll cross that bridge when I come to it", but it is something I fear, certainly.

Sprinklestar Sun 12-Nov-17 17:03:24

You can’t control any of it. My DF died in his early 60s, my DGF is still going strong in his 90s. Enjoy each day and stop worrying!

hollowtree Sun 12-Nov-17 17:08:54

Ahh OP I have this fear! My DH and I are in our 20s! I just told him off again actually as this is an argument we often have (as a joke: "Don't you DARE die before me!") but he is SO unhealthy! Between his obsession with takeaways, smoking and coke addiction (coke a cola, not class A!) He is definitely set to depart before me and my obsession with yoga, swimming and home cooked vegetarian food.

I am trying to convince him to be more healthy just so I don't have to put the bins out by myself one day. But I totally get the fear of being alone... tell him if he does before you, you'll kill him.

HeadDreamer Sun 12-Nov-17 17:18:26

No because I’m certain I will outlive DH. He is only 4 years older than me. But you know already that men generally have a shorter life. What did the counsellor say? I don’t know how anyone here can help given you are already getting professional help? I expect most of us just expects it is what will happen?

hevonbu Sun 12-Nov-17 17:19:52

I agree with Sprinklestar you can't control it just accept it as a possible fact of life. Try to be busy with other activities, so you have less time to think about it, and talk over your finances with your DH. My granny and granddad had the same age difference as between you and your DH, and he died when she was 58 upon which she started to travel around the world, visiting various countries in America, Africa and Asia. One day when she was in her eighties she didn't pick up her phone (this was quite some time ago when people had landlines only) and mum got worried, we hurried to her flat. There - a note saying she had embarked on a trip abroad and "I didn't tell you about the trip in advance since you'd only try to stop me". So, you never you what'll happen and how you will react.

AnnieAnoniMouse Sun 12-Nov-17 17:25:30

SecretaryBird I’m so sorry you feel like that 😕. Can your DH not help you to meet people & make friends now so that you wouldn’t be alone if he died? Can you get your finances sorted so you’d have some money coming in from his pension as well as your own? Plus, you need to find some care services that you would be able to call immediately if he was to die. You can’t carry on living with this much fear of him dying x

MascaraGirl I don’t know if more therapy would help you or not. I mean, in someways it always helps to have someone to talk to, but it doesn’t need to be a paid therapist. If therapy has already given you a set of tools to use that work, then I don’t know how much you’d get out of more therapy, except I guess a different type of therapy might give you a different set of tools - but that’s all they are isn’t it, you still have to apply them, there’s no magic fix (sadly).

Anxiety is completely debilitating. It’s a nasty bastard. I’m very fortunate not to suffer from it all the time. I had a brief spell after a bereavement, but I was lucky enough to shift it relatively quickly, but it was enough of a taste of it to totally empathise with those suffering.

However, I have a very good friend who suffers terribly. I’m a writer (not the creative sort! LOL. Just someone who makes plans, to do lists, thinks best while writing etc) and I introduced her to the concept of ‘planning away her anxiety’ & she finds it really helps in some situations.

It’s not possible to do with everything people feel anxious about, but with some things you can PLAN anxiety away by not giving it any breathing space.

Can you try to plan this away? Write down your fears, then write down what would alleviate them, then write down how to get/achieve those things, then a really detailed step by step list of things to work on. It helps in a couple of different ways, firstly it takes the air out of the fear & secondly it gives you things to focus on doing.

annandale Sun 12-Nov-17 17:31:02

It can be a worry for sure, though the way you are thinking about it does sound like the anxiety talking. The women in my family tend to live until they are 90 at least, and I have seen them live enjoyable, productive and meaningful lives for a very long time - but nearly everyone needs some help towards the end. In most cases family have not been willing able to do it all, which is why social services and nursing homes exist. I have seen people doing perfectly OK in nursing homes.

I also have a neighbour who at 75 (no family left, no kids) is giving us a good example by maintaining a solid network of friends and going out /travelling much more than we do.

Live the best life you can, get a pension forecast and make friends, I guess.

Floralnomad Sun 12-Nov-17 17:35:19

You need to get help for your anxiety because what you are worrying about is irrational . It’s all ifs and maybes and you are wasting time dwelling on it , just as easily you could both get hit by a bus next week . My dh is 7 yrs older than me , he is also from a long living family whereas my dad died aged 51 , I seriously have never given a thought to what would happen if he died , because he’s alive and that is not only morbid but a complete waste of time . Sorry if this sounds harsh but really you need help .

SecretaryBird Sun 12-Nov-17 17:36:06

Unfortunately, we dont have any pensions, we just have his wage and if he died i would have to try and claim benefit, i tried to claim ESA once as i had to give up my job because i have longterm health conditions but they said that i am fit for work, but im not, so catch 22!

MascaraGirl Sun 12-Nov-17 17:41:09

Annie I too like writing/planning! I have a good pension, we're mortgage-free and DH is very well insured (life insurance). If I knew for sure that I could move into some sheltered accommodation (McCarthy Stone type development) if DH died, or maybe a nice residential home (depending on my age) and therefore have company/support, then a lot of my fears would be alleviated - but obviously at 48 I can't make a reservation with either of those!

I do have a good selection of hobbies and interests. I plan to keep these going. I feel better for having posted and received replies.

annandale Sun 12-Nov-17 17:45:04

Secretary, my dh got a state pension forecast a couple of weeks ago, who knows what will happen in the future but you can only work on the basis of how things are now.

Ellisandra Sun 12-Nov-17 18:20:04

I don't think there's much point trying to work out when each of you might die.
You can't know, and no-one is guaranteed to be "average".
So I don't think the numbers can ever be reassuring for you.

I would focus on the worst case scenario and how you'll manage that. Financially you sound pretty sorted. Social life... I'm not sure I'd worry massively about finding friends now - you don't know how life will change. But thinking through your future strategies - volunteering with the NT, taking U3A courses, using sites like this to chat to people, finding a book group... all things like that, I would mentally run through to stave off the worrying each time you think of it.

My H and I are 40s/50s and 12 years apart. I suppose most likely he'll go first. He probably thought that before his late wife became ill 10 years ago sad

The best thing you can do is accept we never know, and to make every day count whilst you're together.

MagiciansSign Sun 12-Nov-17 18:25:36

Touching posts, OP. All I would add: Yes, planning can be good, up to a point. But worrying is sometimes a substitute for living and living each day to the full.

grobagsforever Sun 12-Nov-17 18:38:19

My DH died at 35, I was 33. Count yourself lucky and enjoy the years you have, no one can predict the future

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