If I were to give you one piece of practical advice to help you to cope with the everyday realities of being widowed, it would be this: Get yourself a tool kit.
If your husband had a tool kit then dig it out and familiarise yourself with its contents; if he was totally impractical then you will have to get yourself some tools of your own. Television is saturated with D.I.Y programmes that make it all look so easy, but the fact is that hanging a door or tiling a floor, are jobs that take quite a lot of skill. I am not suggesting that you attempt to do anything complicated yourself, but there are some basic tasks like wiring a plug or hanging shelves that you can do yourself, thus saving the expense of calling in a carpenter or an electrician.
There is no need to go mad; you don’t need anything fancy like a router or a circular saw, just a few basic essentials. The best thing to do first of all is to visit your local D.I.Y superstore and have a walk around. You can ask for advice and if you explain your situation then I’m sure the staff will fall over themselves to help you. You don’t have to spend a fortune, most of the tools can be bought second-hand if need be, but the basic tool kit I would recommend is as follows:
A. A claw hammer
B. A pair of pliers (pointy)
C. A pair of pliers (blunt)
D. A Stanley knife
E. A set of screwdrivers
F. An insulated electrical screwdriver
G. A saw
H. A pair of wire cutters
I. A set of spanners.
J. An electric drill – preferably a hammer drill
K. A spirit level
I would suggest that along with your tool kit you also invest in a basic D.I.Y. manual. But if you only want to wire a plug, then most D.I.Y stores have free leaflets, which explain how to do simple jobs around the house. Basic wiring is no more complicated than knitting, but people get scared when they think about electricity (I get scared when I think about knitting and I find wiring really easy, but then I never said I was normal). Anyway, if you are a complete novice, then start with a plug and see how you get on.
Before I get lots of letters from horrified safety officials, I must stress that I am not advocating that you gaily set about re-wiring your house armed only with a screwdriver and a vague notion about the brown wire being live and the stripy one being earth. Electricity can kill, and so you must only attempt what you know you can do safely, but putting up a light fitting isn’t rocket science, it just takes a bit of common sense, and with time, patience and application you will be amazed at what you can achieve. Knowledge is power. You can change a light fitting, you can mend a broken tap and you can assemble flat-pack furniture.
There are many unscrupulous tradesmen out there who will shake their heads and tut-tut when asked to do the simplest of jobs, because they know you are ignorant and they know they can take advantage of you. If you can get a friend or neighbour who is competent at D.I.Y. to show you how to do some simple jobs around the house, then you will gain some level of independence. And even if you don’t want to attempt any home maintenance, it is always useful to know how to find the trip switch, the fuse box and how to turn of the water stop-cock in an emergency.
You might think that you have too much to do without having to worry about home maintenance, but there is a very good reason for getting acquainted with your tool kit. If you can master something which you first thought was impossible then you will gain self-esteem, and self-esteem is something that is vital to your recovery.
If you get stuck then you can find all the information you need at:www.finddiy.co.uk/. This site provides you with information about every D.I.Y. site in the U.K.
Other useful sites are:www.diy.com/ and www.homebase.co.uk/
N.B. As with anything regarding safety in the home, if you are at all unsure about what you are doing, then it is wise to call in an expert.