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Mary 70, UK

I separated from my partner of 37 years in 2000. I was working full time and after a couple of years I moved - to live next door to my son and his family. 5 years ago we bought a large house together and I became the mad granny in the attic. My ex partner became terminally ill with cancer and the whole family were involved for caring for him - and supporting his wife.

This made me reflect on my life and while talking to a past ‘teenage’ girl friend we reminisced about what had happened to all our old friends. She said ‘I wonder where Charles L . is. I said I would find him! This was not at all easy! I eventually tracked him down via his erstwhile secretary who said he had retired, that he spent time with his family and that his wife had died 5 years previously. She said she would pass my email address on to him.

I didn't hear for 2 weeks as my computer had binned his email, but it finally surfaced in my inbox!. We met at a local pub (for 6 hours) and got on straight away.

We have been together 4 years now but we are LATers. Living Apart Together. We spend about 3/4 days together each week, have endless holidays and Skype every night. Life is good and more importantly fun.

Charles aged 70, UK

Following 35 years of a very happy marriage, my wife died after a short illness in November 2007. My world was turned upside down but I was eternally grateful to be in full time employment so submersed myself in my work. Four years later, I retired aged 65 and wondered what the future might hold. Children, friends, charity work and a bit of golf and travel pretty much filled my empty life.

Having had such a great marriage, I had convinced myself that that was my lot and that such happiness would not come around again. However, after 5 years "in the wilderness", I was just beginning to hope that things might change - perhaps even a new relationship?

Amazingly, within a few weeks, I was contacted by an old friend who had, together with a mutual friend of ours, decided to get in touch for old time’s sake and to find out what I was up to, 46 years since we had had last been together. We met up again and embarked upon some serious catching up with our respective lives, careers, families, children and grandchildren et al.

My wife having died 5 years previously, it transpired that my old friend had also been single for several years following her partnership of 37 years. She was now a free spirit who was clearly very happy with her life.

Over the past four years, we have grown very close and now enjoy a wonderful relationship, spending time together each week as well as holidaying together on a regular basis. Magic!

Margaret age 73
My late husband and I had just bought a new house, but upon moving in, he was diagnosed with cancer and within three months died. I was 67 at the time.
The shock was unbearable, but the reality set in! My two daughters, their children, and friends were a great comfort to me.
All these things helped to combat the great loneliness, but my heart was greatly missing my husband.
I had been widowed before when I was 30 years old with two young girls to live for, so in a way I knew what to expect and how to cope with loneliness again.
Many months after my husband’s death I heard that an "old flame" from my teenage years had lost his wife the year before and through a mutual friend we were introduced!
We had a great deal to talk about and decided to meet up periodically and spend a day together every month, then every other week and finally each week.
We got on well and had similar interests enjoyed National Trusts, antique shops, travelling, music etc. and after a year and a half decided to spend the rest of our lives together, married.

Michael 73
I was 66 when my wife died at the age of 64: in 2005 she had been diagnosed with a form of non Hodgkin's lymphoma and our first visit to her Oncologist revealed that it was treatable but non curable and so we were always living within a certain timescale.
I retired at Christmas 2008. My wife died in June 2009 so we were unable to enjoy any retirement time together.
Although I cannot say that my children were especially supportive after her death, but they were always there if I needed them. I had always been a person with many interests and continued to involve myself in some of them - principally sport. Although I was active in the daytime, the evenings were the time I felt lonely. Television was a great help at such times.
In November 2010 I met up with my first love from way back in 1961 and she totally changed my life;  we got on so well together and it wasn't long before we realised we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. We married in May 2012.

There are, however, so many of us who have loved somebody else before or missed the chance to:

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