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The light after the dark

Retirement Living Connectedness Community Independence Positive Ageing Retirement Stories

The death of a partner is, sadly, a reality for most in later years.

The Good Life spoke with IRT Links Seaside resident Aileen Wright about how she coped with losing her husband at the age of 60.​

13 May 2019
Aileen Wright at IRT Links Seaside.
Aileen and her husband Keith shared 40 years together before he passed away.
“There are times when I thought about it a lot.”
Aileen Wright

Keith and Aileen Wright met at a dance at Culburra Surf Club.

“I was staying at Culburra with some girlfriends and at the weekend we went to the dance at the surf club,” Aileen says.

At the time Aileen was 18 and Keith was 20 – they married two years later.

The couple shared 40 years of marriage together before Keith passed away.

“We had a great marriage,” she says.

Keith was diagnosed with cancer and there was nine months from his diagnosis to when he passed away.

“I was 60 when I lost him and I’m 86 years old now.”

Aileen remembers that Keith passed away the day heart surgeon Victor Chang died too, and their grandson was born that night.

“But that’s life,” she says.

During their time together Keith and Aileen had four boys and lived in Fairfield and Georges Hall in Sydney. They bought a unit on the Gold Coast and found themselves spending more and more time there. Aileen says they had a great lifestyle and played a lot of golf.

When Keith died, Aileen threw herself into golf, playing three to four days a week. She had a strong social group in Queensland and she went on holidays with them. “There were lots of couples but I was involved a lot. But that was my way of being able to continue.”

She remained in Queensland for 15 years after Keith died before moving to Wollongong to be closer to family.

“I decided to stay in Queensland for that time – as I thought my social group would really help me through. Some people say you need your family but I saw a lot of them too.”

When asked how she adjusted to life without Keith she says it is hard to explain.

She says after losing a partner you have your moments over the years. “Anniversaries and birthdays. When our youngest son got married, and Keith wasn’t there, that was pretty hard. There are times when I thought about it a lot.”

She says when it comes to grief, everyone is very different. But for her, getting out and getting into the community has been important. “If you are social, join in. But it’s very hard to tell people what to do, when everyone is so different.”

Aileen says she never wanted to remarry. “I had Mr Right anyway.”

Today Aileen has 11 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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