Re-defining Life After Loss

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Moving to an assisted living community is an emotional time, from closing one chapter to moving on to a new part of life. Carole, a resident at The Arbors at Dracut knows these feelings all too well. After taking care of her husband, Ray, the love of her life for 68 years, he passed away. Carole was so busy caring for Ray, that she didn’t have time to care for herself. The morning after his funeral, she was admitted to the hospital only to find she had Atrial Fibrillation, Congestive Heart Failure, and Pneumonia. Like many spouses who assume the role of primary caregiver, putting her husband’s needs before her own took a serious toll on her own health.

Quickly realizing that she wouldn’t be able to live on her own anymore, Carole’s daughters reserved a spot for her at The Arbors at Dracut. “My daughters had a room for me here (The Arbors at Dracut) before it even opened!” says Carole.

You wouldn’t know it speaking to Carole as she grinned ear-to-ear, excited to share her experience after moving to The Arbors at Dracut, but Carole’s first couple of months living at the community were some of the hardest times of her life.  Admittedly, she knew that moving was the best for her, but the move happened so quickly after the passing of her husband. “I was still grieving my husband’s death. I spent a lot of time in my apartment the first two months. ”

Re-uniting with “Old Friends” and Making New Ones

As most people who have spent a significant part of their life living in the Dracut community can attest to: everyone knows someone. One of Carole’s first visits to the dining room at The Arbors at Dracut had her sitting next to the very gentleman that had installed flooring in Carole’s house over 45 years ago. Carole recalled being met with, “Well, hello Carole,” as she settled in for lunch.  “I looked at him confused and said, ‘I’m sorry. How do you know me?”  After sharing a good laugh, the two learned their daughters had also gone to grade school with each other. Visiting the dining room for lunch or dinner has become one of Carole’s favorite part of her days. “I just love talking with everyone, I am usually the last one eating or drinking my tea in the dining room.”

Knowing first-hand how big of a change moving to an assisted living community can be, Carole’s made it her personal mission to bring happiness (in the form of a good laugh or even just a smile) to other residents.

“I was here for about a month and a half and this man, Fred, was always sitting alone. Fred always had a long face and sad eyes. And I went over to him one day with my cup of tea and asked him if he wanted some company. He said yes, so, I sat down, and we talked. I went back again the next morning and did this for three weeks. Finally, during the third week he smiled. I told Fred ‘You smiled! I want to see that smile all of the time.’” said Carole. Fred is now flourishing and even has a girlfriend!

Getting Involved

“It’s hard losing a spouse, no matter what the circumstances are,” says Executive Director Jonathan Athanas. “But, it can be equally hard living in the very place you spent all your time taking care of them.  In some cases, while it might not seem ideal, a move like Carole’s right after a spouse passes away can help lessen the grieving time.  With someone like Carole, especially, who is quite an extrovert, staying at home can make it intimidating to find new activities to get involved with after a husband passes away.  You’re alone, processing the loss of someone you’ve spent over 50 years with, and even without them there, it’s hard to get out of the pattern of being a ‘home body’. In Carole’s case, once she had time to grieve the loss of her husband, we had a variety of recreational activities for her to jump right in to.”

“I’m involved now with everything here (The Arbors at Dracut),” says Carole. She helped plant flowers in the garden, plays cribbage every day, attends the baking class, goes to the live music each week and loves going to the featured movies in the theater.

Carole has become a social butterfly once again. “Living here has changed my life. I love that I don’t have to cook or worry about cleaning my apartment,” says Carole. She can spend her time with friends, and helping others find their happiness, which she loves doing.

Learn more about The Arbors at Dracut by scheduling a tour today.

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