Dear Nadine Khan,
I am a 78-year-old widow. I have two daughters and a son, all married. I am a retired teacher. My life was very good while my husband was alive. My daughters often used to visit me, and my son and daughter-in-law lived with my husband and I. We had a big house, with two maids and a driver, so my daughter-in-law and I had no problems with each other. I have noticed that most problems arise because of household chores, and I never expected my daughter-in-law to cook or clean because I never had to do it as well. I taught at college level, and my husband did not want me to cook after returning from work, and my son is like his father only. But then my husband died and my life changed. My husband was a wonderful person who loved me a lot and took care of my every need. His death left us all devastated. While I was still in id’dat, my son told me that he had decided to immigrate to Canada. He had applied when my husband was alive, and his immigration came through just before my husband’s death. He went with his wife and children, and after he settled down, he sponsored me. I did not want to leave my house and go, but my son persuaded me. I have been living in Canada for a little over six years, and I miss my house and my country a lot. My son and daughter-in-law work very hard, and take care of all my needs. I try to help them by cooking and cleaning, but I feel depressed most of the time as I don’t have anyone to talk to. My son, his wife go to bed at 8 p.m., and my grandchildren are in their teens and have their own activities. It is very difficult to pass time. I used to read a lot, but I have lost interest in reading. I watch TV but after some time, I switch it off. I want to speak Urdu but my grandchildren only talk to me in English. I feel lonely because I have no place in the lives of my children now. My son and daughter-in-law make it a point to have breakfast with me, and they have tea with me in the evening, but then they go to their room and children go to their rooms. I don’t know what to do. Should I force my son to send me to Pakistan? I asked him once, but he said I would be lonely there too, because my daughters live in joint families and would visit me when they have time, and I would only have maids for company in my house. Please help me.
Dear Depressed Widow,
God blessed you in every way; you had a loving and caring husband and a wonderful family, and a very comfortable life. The death of your husband was a great blow to you, as you lost your companion, but you are a lucky woman because you have a caring son and a good daughter-in-law. They try to look after you, and despite their busy routine they try to give you company. It’s not enough for you, but is better than nothing. My dear, the problem is that you moved to Canada in your seventies, and could not get adjusted to the change in your lifestyle. You have a lot of free time, and not much to do, which makes you restless and depressed. Unfortunately, you have lost interest in reading and watching TV when both these activities would have helped you pass your time. Things will not change for the better, as the routine of your family will remain the same. I cannot advise you to return, because your son has a point; you would not only be lonely if you go back, you will be alone as well. You are educated and sensible, and should come up with things to help you while away your time. Try to start reading again. Revisit your favourite books, and if you find your friends back in your life, your time will pass quickly. Also, make the effort to watch TV for an hour at least. Talk to people in Pakistan in Urdu. Are you religious? Do you pray? Try to communicate with God, and you will find contentment. Life is a vicious circle and we all have to contend with loneliness that you are facing. You live with your son and his family, but if you give a thought to those who live without their children, you will realise your situation is better, and will thank God for giving you such a loving family. Good luck!