The Women’s March and 6 Tips when You come Home to an Empty House

Not my President

My writer’s group at the Women’s March

It’s my first protest!   My writer’s group and I marched  in Walnut Creek, CA, a conservative suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Over 10,000 people filled the streets in “a suburb known more for shopping and restaurants than for protests.”  Someone was handing out signs which is how I wound up holding that one with my writer friend.  We owned that sign. Sort of.

The march was fantastic.  Empowering.  Exciting.  Astonishing in its numbers.  Reassuring that so many people turned out.  Heart-warming in all the different causes represented.

And then the hard part, going home to a house without my George.

That’s one of the hardest parts of this journey, you never know when you’ll be hit by feelings of loss.  My life is fuller than it used to be.  But my house is still empty of its other inhabitant.  And it catches me by surprise sometimes.

My day was busy with attending the march, then attending a memorial for a friend’s mother, I hadn’t made evening plans. But, when coming home to an empty house feels bad, here’s a few suggestions:

5 Tips for Coming Home to an Empty House:

  1.  Having Something to Look Forward to:  I like to have something I’m looking forward to doing at home.  It may just be a series I’m binge-watching (currently Grey’s Anatomy, I missed it the first time round) and something I’m looking forward to eating.  If I want chocolate cake and martinis, they’re waiting for me. (Kale and broccoli, not so much).
  2. Virtually Connecting: I can text or call with friends or family so I don’t feel so alone. A girlfriend and I are planning her birthday party, so when I come home to an empty house and feel lonely,  I can give her my ideas and schedule our next planning meeting.  After the March, I called my step-mom to talk.  She was an activist when she was in medical school (and after), but lacked the stamina for the march.  She was glad to know she’d been there in spirit.
  3. Loving Your Home: Shortly after George died, I remodeled my master bathroom.  Life pretty much sucked at that point, but walking into a beautiful master bath made me feel a teeny bit more hopeful.  I could feel him in the colors and textures I’d chosen.  I had my non-working fireplace resuscitated and converted to gas so I could run it on “Spare the Air” days so the living room felt inviting.  My current splurges are warm things that cheer me up in all this winter darkness.  I’ve been buying blue faux fur pillows and fluffy white area rugs on (Blushing face emoji.)
  4. Perspective: My old chestnut, but so many women I know would love to have their own space and time to do whatever they want.  I know people who feel ambivalent about their marriages. For a lot of people, being married isn’t necessarily better.  We widowed folk can be grateful (sorry, another chestnut) for the time we did have with the person we loved. It’s another phase, and not one we wanted, but I’m starting to feel like the love we had still lasts in some ways.
  5. Accepting Change:  My poor boyfriend.  Okay, sometimes he’s a problem, but, between you and me and WordPress, sometimes my complaint is that he’s just not George.  George was a born nurturer with awesome manners and a fabulous cook and…etc. We don’t always have to be alone, but we do have to accept that any new person will be different than our first beloveds.  And that is hard.  I was tired after my big day on Saturday and not up for going out. My boyfriend came over with take-out pho to watch a movie. It can be amazing to feel comfortable with someone new. And that can sustain me on nights I’d rather not be alone.  (Or it can make me look forward to a night by myself with Season One of Grey’s).
  6. Scheduling Evening Activities:  I do evening yoga and so do several of my friends, giving me an activity to look forward to. It also helps to have less time to wallow if I’m feeling sad. I scheduled too many evening activities I didn’t enjoy after George died, and those, Rotary Club dinners and a women’s group where I related to very few people, felt worse than staying in. If something doesn’t work, reward yourself for trying.  I also tried a part-time job working in a bookstore. As a cranky introvert, I got along best with the books and checked retail off my list.

Loneliness is one of my big themes. If you have any ways you deal with it, please comment so we can all learn. I got some awesome comments after my last post on why some single women have given up on men AND all the comments were kind.  Thank you so much.

Thee best tweet I saw,  “Thank you Women’s March for taking us from hopeless to empowered when we most needed it.”

Love, Debbie






  • mari says:

    Debbie, first – congratulations on participating in the historical womens’ march. It’s so important to speak out in any way you can…this week my own blog post ( will center on my concern.
    Like you, it’s the coming HOME from things, the first moments of entering a house devoid of the very person who would have cheered you on and want to hear all about it, that’s one of the toughest. Your tips were right on! I especially related to the now-gas fireplace, something we just never got around to do it but it’s very existence now is a comfort. You gave a treasure trove if tips that if we haven’t already used as a guide, will be handy to fall back on. Thank you for your words and perception!!!!

    • Debbie says:

      Thank you so much Mari. The march was fantastic. Some friends have added me to local pantsuit groups which is great! I’m so glad you liked the tips. I was afraid they were too obvious and, as you know, it gets lonely in bloggerville. I look forward to reading your post. (Too bad we don’t live near each other).

  • Therese says:

    I went to the Women’s March in San Diego with friends and there were 30,000 in attendance which was awesome. I felt such elation marching , but also a sense of sadness knowing my husband Scot would have been there with me enjoying every minute. So many men attended with their spouses and partners and I missed that. I did have a dinner date with a “new” guy that night which was a distraction and fun, but not the same. The new guy jokingly refers to me as a “feminist” now (which I am), but it shows he does not get it. Scot would have understood the importance of the event for everyone and not put a label on it.

    I laughed when I read the comments about installing a gas fireplace. That was one of the first projects I tackled after Scot died. It is wonderful watching a movie with a glass of wine and my dogs on the weekend with a roaring fire.:)

    • Debbie says:

      I agree so much on the fire with a glass of wine. And I too fell the march was for everyone who wanted to march for inclusiveness. It went beyond Women’s issues. And yes, I miss my George when trying to make sense of the current administration etc. He would have “gotten it.” I so get how you feel. My boyfriend was like “now, you’re an activist.”

  • Kerry says:

    I am alone about 50% of the time in my current life situation. I love having a dog to come home to. I also binge watch plenty of shows (currently Parenthood). I also turn on my fireplace (with one switch) every night it’s even remotely cold to make a cozy atmosphere. I also sit in my hot tub regularly at night, I light candles in the house when I’m here alone. I enjoy my glass or two of red wine. I check in with girlfriends on the phone or text or email. I invite people over for a drink or dinner. And I go to evening yoga classes too. Sometimes if it is not too cold I’ll also take a sunset walk around the neighborhood (with the dog). I like to cook, too, so that stretches out the dinner hour. And, hard to admit this, but I’ve started watching the evening news (so middle aged, right?) while I cook dinner. It helps me feel connected to my community. I also started recording shows that are locally based to also learn more about my ‘hood. These are my ramblings for evenings alone. These things work for me! Great post D.

    • Debbie says:

      I am contemplating pet ownership! I light candles too! You have some great things that you do! I need to get more proactive in inviting people over. And thanks K…miss you!

  • Gary says:

    Running a bit behind everyone else on this one. Spent my first birthday since Diane died. I am blessed to have wonderful friends, but it still meant coming home alone. I am not to where being alone is something I look forward to, even though I tend to be reclusive by nature. I was going to go to a late comedy show, but realized after making dinner and having a couple of phone conversations that I was not up to getting dressed and going out into the world of coupledom. I can plan and do things alone on a large scale, but have difficulty with the smaller, more intimate settings. Guess it is a good cabernet, the hot tub, my last piece of birthday cake and a movie. I too miss the compass and anchor that would have helped us through these *****ed up times. My best to everyone in these Gary L.

    • Debbie says:

      I know what you mean about venturing out into the world of coupledom. And sometimes I look forward to being alone and other times I really do not want to be. It’s all just such a process. Take care.

  • Cathy Watson says:

    Gardening, cutting roses and then arranging them in vases and putting them around my house is lovely, taking my pup for a walk, watching chick flick shows and movies and not having to apologize for that when I’m alone is another fav. I honestly don’t mind being alone post-marriage because no one is ignoring me or making me feel lousy anymore, in my own home. I’ve lived alone seven years though and the first three were the toughest for sure. It takes time.

    • Debbie says:

      I agree that it takes time. And I too am getting used to being alone more. I know when I’ve dated a few guys who were critical, I’ve thought what righted they have and ended things. Now I feel like putting some fresh flowers on my desk!