Living alone after partner death vs move with parents

My husband and I lived together the last 17 years, most of the time in rented places but in the last 5.5 years in our first bought house which we’d renovated every detail throughout together (and some still to do in garden).

This house is in a deprived area where half the residents live in council houses and half rent privately/own. Some like me are “outsiders” and some are born and bred and they all know each other, the rest of us keep ourselves to ourselves.

That half of them born and bred here have different rules than the rest of us and allow their kids to kick balls at our houses, trespass into our back gardens and my next door neighbour even found one setting fire to his pigeon muck (I know how stereotypically northern england!) in her chimnea in her garden whilst he had a beer sitting in her garden chair, he didn’t even move when she came out to ask what the f he was doing!

My other next door neighbour moved after one of the locals threatened to slit her dogs throats as they barked a lot. 3 houses opposite are empty as those people couldn’t stand it either and our house had been empty for years before we bought it.

When we moved in, the windows and doors were smashed, graffiti and the local kids (back when I used to talk with them as at first I tried friendly tactics but it didn’t work) told me it was them and their families that took things from the old man’s house.

Over the years my husband and I reported to the police many times and also wrote to MP, Mayor, police commissioner, Councillors and all sorts over what we see as a lack of enforcement of the law in this poor area. Their response is more or less that this is how it is in these areas and we don’t belong here.

We had around 300 incidents over 5 years (most in the first three years but a couple still this year). Things like groups of teenagers climbing over into our back garden and giving us abuse, them trampling hedge or breaking fences and smashing bricks from walls, rocks and bricks thrown into the garden or at the house, airgun fired and other missiles at the cameras we installed for evidence gathering, threats to harm us, loose aggressive dogs pooing in our garden, flytipping into our back garden. Persistent ringing of our doorbell/hammering at our door, damage to plants and noise from these kids screaming outside sitting on our garden wall. Stealing our bins to set fire to. So nothing really serious but enough to build up nervousness in me that I didn’t used to have.

There are also rows and fights in the street and low level drug taking going on regularly.

This is why we could afford a detached house with a big garden however instead of a small apartment. I love to watch hedgehogs, feed the birds, frogs in the pond, I have trees and my husband had built me a shelter in the garden where I can sit with a heater or fire on and read a book. It’s one of my favourite places ever when it is quiet, which is most of the time. I sat in it yesterday for 10 min and felt some peace which is rare lately.

Besides these anti social behaviour episodes that get less and less the house is very comfortable for me and our 4 cats have a lovely garden with trees to play in.

Since my husband died I do have some big problems with home automation he installed (and I tried several companies but they also don’t understand it as he was at the extreme end of this new technology) but I think in the end I could fix it.
I don’t drive and I don’t know anyone locally so I am quite isolated and vulnerable.

Then of course the big thing is that I miss my husband so much and not sure I can take care of the cats and myself well as my brain is not working properly anymore. I never lived alone and get very scared thinking about it.

My sister in law says I need to get a nightlight and lock the doors and persist on my own (which I’ve not tried yet) until I get over my fears because my home is my home and where I really want to be and she said moving with her parents was the worst thing and made her even more unhappy after her breakup. She made me promise I would try it but I am not sure if I can as it terrifies me.

My mum says I should live with her, my brother and stepdad. They live around 30 mins drive (if no traffic) from my house. Last night I stayed at their house to try it just overnight. Everything is annoying and I feel like a child again. For example my stepfather has all these rules about the toilet and what time I can use it (shower , basin, toilet are in the same room). He had bowel cancer and spends hours in the toilet writing down his motions in a little book there.

My brother says it makes him so frustrated living here because they are always giving him unsolicited advice and treat him like a child (he is mid 30s)but he bites his lip because he knows they mean well and we are lucky to have them. They won’t change their ways and it hurts us to let them think we are ungrateful for all they do for us as we do know we are very lucky.

Once I am working again it will be difficult because if my stepdad is on the toilet I would have to go to work without a shower/hygiene (as my brother says he has to sometimes).

Also they regularly eat off food or things I tell them I dont like but they give me anyway (again I’m aware how ungrateful that is… I do just eat it). It makes me feel very submissive and like a little girl when I did have this adult life.

A big fear is about my cats, there is one cat at my mums and she has to sleep outside (there is a shed but my cats are treated like royalty lol so it would be a big change for them). My mum already made several comments about the food I feed them being too expensive and she keep giving them other food at my house which they eat but then are sick.
Also at my house she has moved a lot of stuff around since she has been helping me this last month or criticised the way my husband had made something which upset me.

Once lock down is over my mums house always has a lot of visitors and phone rings loudly (stepdad is deaf) all the time whereas I m normally quite peaceful and quiet at my house and it makes me stressed all the goings on at mums constantly. I used to hate it as a teenager and moved out at 17 just as soon as I could.

I live my mum and stepdad very much though and it might be nice to help them (if they let me, usually they know better though…) She lives in a lovely area where they don’t see druggies or expect anti social behaviour like I do and the neighbours there would help if there was some problem as everyone knows each other.

I know I am lucky to even have options but I just don’t know what’s best. Stayingat mums last night reminded me of all the things I found so irritating last time. Like now it’s 7am and I’d like a coffee but my stepdad is doing his exercises in the kitchen (he doesn’t stop if you go in there).

I’m not sure what to do. I feel a lot safer at my mums but stressed in a different way. Which is worse… I don’t know.

Hi FleurDeLis
I think you have probably answered your own question as staying in your own home makes much more sense. Its always hard to return to parents as an adult although I can see that your house has it’s fair share of issues too.
However what I would say is, your husband only died very recently and it’s way too soon to be making big decisions like that.
As time goes on and the shock lessens, it will probably become more clear what is best for you.
In the meantime, could you do a bit of living at your own home and staying at your mums until things are easier?
Cheryl x


I think you know deep down the answer. Yes you feel safer with mum at the moment. But that’s your grief. I would say the same as Cheryl. Split your time between the two. Then gradually bit by bit you will feel stronger to stay on your own. If in a year or so you still do not feel safe there. Maybe you could look at another house in a better area. Feeling safe in your home is so important. But I think this time next year if not sooner you will know what the right thing is

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This is really difficult. In my younger days I lived in a rough area, so I know what you’re dealing with. If you leave the house for a time, do you have alarms and/or a neighbour who will watch over it?
I thought of other possible solutions - could you get someone - your brother maybe - to stay with you for a while? Could you rent your house out in the short term and use the rent to rent another place where you would feel safe?
I’m alone in the house I shared with my husband, which we were selling at the time of his death. It is so full of memories, some happy, others very sad. I have kept this house on sale, because we already bought another and have a bridging loan.
The standard advice is that you should not make any major life changes in the year following the loss of your partner, but there isn’t any such thing as a standard person. We are all different.
You don’t have to make a major decision right now, though. You can stay at your parents for a night and then go back home. Maybe after a week or two you will know what’s best for you.
Thinking of you. Hugs, Christie xxx


Would your Brother not move in with you?


I live in a big council estate up north and it is very clique. I too was an outsider Initially and it took years to fit in, to adapt because unless you’ve lived on these estates it’s, hard to understand what they can be like. We too have drug dealing going of and dodgy looking folks the best thing to do is just ignore it get on with you’re life in peace beleive me they soon get fed up of annoying you when they realise there not annoying you.


Dear FleurDeLis
My husband died nearly six months ago. I live in the roughest part of a decent area where there is plenty for me to do, good transport and my sister and brother in law are a 20 minute walk away. It is a 4 bedroom house, 3 storey. I recently had damp in attics and my builder discovered there was a cannabis farm next door. I sent him away, we don’t think anyone had seen him and reported it to Police anonymously. It has been dismantled but the equipment is still there for all passers by to see! I have 8 cats and a big yard. I have felisafe on the walls this is like a netting that goes out at forty five degrees, so my cats cannot get over the walls as I am on a main road. I have bars on my downstairs windows and I just tell myself they do this all the time in Spain! I have a rock door front and back. I pretend my nephew lives here and that he is quite depressed after losing his job and is in bed most of the time!!! With the cannabis farm I wanted to move, but now I think I will stay until I actually want to move. I have befriended older and respectful neighbours over the years, and just a quick hello to others, including one who had served a prison sentence for manslaughter, one was breeding pit bulls, I could write a book! No way will I ever divulge I called Police, I pretended I got the shock of my life when Police vans arrived. I have thought about maybe getting a lodger and letting them have a room as a bedroom and one as a living room, but this would be for security rather than money or company. I would do what we did some years ago and get a foreign language student as they come over September and go back May. You find out what schools they teach at and if there was any trouble the school would help sort it out. They are grateful to have somewhere to live and be able to practice their English. I know I could not live with my sister even though we love each other dearly and my brother in law is fantastic, so I would find it hard living with your relatives. I had thought about getting a dog if my cats would accept it, one that would bark if it heard anything. I also think about an alarm, but as I hope my house would not be attractive to burgle, we have a lot of second hand stuff although not antique, and our taste has always been quite unique, there is a small TV. I leave a few plates and cups out rather than just one, if cooking I’ll open the back door and shout across the kitchen that dinner is ready, I shout goodbye and hello when I leave and return to the house. In my opinion the worst has already happened to me, I keep my mobile charged and with me. I also do some on line yoga which helps keep me calm to some extent. I really feel for you, but I would say you are not ready to make up your mind. Also I think you said the instances of ASB are reducing if I’ve got that right. Take care of yourself, thinking of you and sorry this is a bit of a disjointed ramble! Xx


Thank you Cheryl and Jooles. My heart wants to be strong enough to stay in my home but I don’t think I am. I feel like I should decide soon because I don’t drive and then this is forcing my family to keep driving up and down the motorway to look after me as I am not coping well so they don’t want to leave me (and I’m not sure I want them to though sometimes I could use more space to think without them watching the news all the time etc).

My mum wants me to move the cats to their house at Xmas and once that is done it’s hard to go back.

Thank you Christie, I have neighbours I have superficial and very infrequent conversations with but they would not back me up against those ASB people. In the street in the past when my husband and I were surrounded by the kids, the nice neighbours can see but they don’t call the police or come and support even though privately they tell me afterwards they think the same. Everyone is scared to get involved. They might call me though if I explained the situation and gave my number though if they see something and I’m away from home. So far none of my neighbours know that my husband died as I tried to hide it as dont want the bad ones finding out he’s not here. For that reason I also didn’t allow the hearse to drive down our street and met at the crematorium instead.

I don’t have an alarm. I think the house wouldn’t rent out unfortunately as there are three unoccupied houses opposite mine that are for sale for more than a year and the owner of one of them kept trying to rent it out also but had no takers (due to reputation of this little area I think and the state of some of the other nearby houses with mattresses in the garden and this kind of thing).

You’re right I can wait a few weeks and maybe things will get clearer. My brother coming to live could be a really good suggestion thank you to you all xx I mentioned it to my mum though and she said he shouldn’t live here as he would end up in a fight with the ASB crowd and get stabbed as he has a lot of rage…

@JanetT I identify lots with what you said. That’s a good idea about the cat nets, I forgot to mention there was a cat psycho around earlier this year too. Its too horrible to tell but many cats were maimed or killed (around 20) and the culprit was not caught. There are also loose muscly dogs on the loose sometimes and since I’m scared of dogs (was badly attacked and hospitalised by two alsations when I was around 6 and had the fear ever since) it puts me off walking around here too. We also kinda befriended someone for a short while who was breeding rottweilers (terrified me!) in transit vans, there are some people you can’t believe are real in these places aren’t there!

Flour de Lis

My lovely , all I can say to you is DONT GO!!!
After you described all it doesn’t sound like a place you would be happy.

Could your brother come and share your house with you? Could you share the house with a friend? Could you sell your house and buy something smaller?
It is so hard to know what is right - but whatever you decide it must be what you feel is right for you.
Take your time to decide what you want
Lots of love
Sadie xx

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probably not what you’d prefer to do Fleur, but have you considered those companies who offer to buy any house or those advertising houses bought for cash, I know it’s not ideal but could be the solution you need if the sum offered was acceptable. At least then you wouldn’t have to go through the stress of putting it on the market and waiting tentatively for someone to come along and offer to buy it.

it’s just a thought and possibly one to look into, maybe cutting your losses and moving to a better place could be the answer.

hope today is an improvement on yesterday and tomorrow is an improvement on today



… although through these companies the price they offer maybe lower price than if the home was sold through an estate agent … also take into account that some money will be saved as you would not be continuing to make mortgage payments (council tax, water, electric, gas, home insurance, etc, etc) whilst the property is on the market and you wait for any sale to be completed … and no estate agency fees too x


Thank you so much for all these ideas, I haven’t commented until now but have been thinking every day about these suggestions and trying to figure out what I want. I still didn’t get there…

There was a new development in that my mother’s house is next to a lightly used tennis court and they had a letter to say that next summer they will build houses there, making a noisy building site and a lot less nice place to live potentially, also a lot more risk to my cats due to the increase in traffic. Also my mum is having another toilet put in (not because of me, they had it booked anyway but apparently covid stalled it). I spent some more time at her house (not sleeping over though) and started to love the town again because i know it better than the town i live in now and feel safe to go for a walk on my own which makes me feel more inclined to enjoy nature. My mum said he would appreciate the help in her garden too but i would be sad to abandon my own garden…

I tried staying on my own at my house and it wasn’t terrible (i did sleep just as much as when at mums or with her here… ie. not much but no less :smiley: ). I can’t imagine it long term though unless i start to drive and I still didn’t like being alone so my mum came and stayed with me again.

I talked to my brother to float the idea of him living here. He said he had already told mum a few months ago as soon as he gets enough money he is moving out because he got sick of living there and it turns him into a teenager again. He didn’t know where he would go though but he said he could see himself living here with me.

I think we might row a bit as he sometimes doesn’t think to lock doors and stuff like that (something necessary in my house as we get druggies tryingcar and house doors). Also I was thinking I’d have to be Ok with him inviting friends over and stuff and I’m not sure if I’d like that as i feel protective of mine and René’s house and his friends are quite over-entitled rich kids who wouldn’t care how to treat stuff I would feel like as “mine and Renés” but I would have to accept it then also belongs to my brother…

I only have two bedrooms in my house as we’d converted one to a bathroom (the original bathroom was downstairs and that is now a utility room). One bedroom is a computer room with all kinds of stuff of my husband’s in (several computers, loads of models he made and electronic wizardry he was working on that i have no idea what to do with) and my own computer desk so i would have to figure out how to make it to a habitable bedroom for my brother and maybe put my computer in the lounge (no room in my smaller bedroom).

So short version… I am still very much undecided… but thank you very much for giving me food for thought.

Talk to your husband and he will guide you
Jack found the house I moved to
Sadie xx

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thank you Sadsadie, I think my husband would want me to stay in this house however I made that happen. He would probably prefer if I stayed by myself as then I wouldn’t have the risk of someone else wrecking all he worked at and that is something I worry about too because when my brother inevitably breaks something I will probably go nuts and that is a risk to my relationship with my brother…

I think a lot depends on me being able to drive, which is something my husband had been trying to get me to come on a some driving refresher lessons with him (I passed my test when 27 and never drove since, now it is 13 years later). When I phoned up to change the insurance for the car into my name i found he had already added me as a driver which felt a bit like a sign too… If i could drive it would make living here (with or without my brother) a lot more possible. Otherwise I dont think i can do it as i hate walking around the local area compared to walking around my mums where i feel safe.

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FleurseLis - difficult decisions!
All the info on grieving say I hat one should wait a couple years to take life changing decisions.

It always help me to think : ‘ what would Jack say about this? “
Lots of love
Sadie xx


Hi @FleurDeLis, it is hard making decisions and Sadie is right in that all the books/counsellors say not to make a major decision in the first two years but that doesn’t mean starting to drive again. Just think how proud your husband would be of you if you drove. It would also give you that bit more independence. I learned at 18 and although I don’t enjoy driving as much now I really don’t know how I would do without it. Even on bad days just to get out in the country a walk or if weather bad a drive.
I have a brother in law who is a “harsher badger” as my Mum calls him and I know I would be angry if he damaged something Bill had done but is it worth all the upset to fall out with them over, I don’t know.
You can do this!
Love Shona x


Fleur, I passed my driving test in 1983 drove for 6 months then never again till I lost Colin in 2019 & thought as I live in the sticks & the bus service is terrible I need to drive. Took two refresher lessons, bought an automatic Smart car & now I drive everywhere. So If I can do it after nearly 40 years you can deffo do it. It will give you something to focus on and a bit independence so go for it :wink:


Well done you Mrs Colt
S xx

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