When You Lose A Spouse
To get a real perspective on what it means to lose a spouse, I interviewed someone who went through it in the last year. Here is her response:
“When your loved one dies, as a caregiver, there is suddenly a big hole in your life. It feels almost like a vortex and you become immobilized. It is hard to make decisions and you lose your groundedness. It is invaluable to have a trusted family friend who can walk beside you and help you through the myriad of paperwork attached to the passing of your loved one and their estate or arranging the funeral. Emotions are heightened and you are more sensitive to the external world because of being in a state of mourning and grieving. A sense of emptiness and a feeling of loneliness surfaces when you find yourself alone for the first time after the funeral and all the people have gone back home.
5 Stages of Grieving
You may find yourself going through the 5 phases of grief:
- Denial and Isolation
You may spend varying amounts of time in each of these phases and sometimes even double back to previous levels. The longer you were together, the more apt you are to need extra time in emotional recovery and grieving.
Enlist the help of your physician if you are not taking care of yourself; are unable to sleep, or feeling depressed. Make a relationship with a bereavement coordinator if you have used hospice and, if not, join a support group for spouses who have lost a love one. Some churches offer bereavement support groups as well. Utilize clergy if you have a relationship with them.
Take the time you need to grieve and process. Monitor your own health needs. Reach out and share with a compassionate person – someone who is non-judgmental, empathetic, and a good listener.
5 ProActive Tips for Adjusting After the Loss of a Spouse
- Socially, be prepared to have a shift in friends. Some friends may feel threatened now that you are single. You may feel like a third wheel when you are with them. You may find yourself not invited to “couple” things that for which you previously took part.
- Look for ways to celebrate and honor your loved one’s life. Realize that anniversaries and birthdays will bring everything back in full focus. Don’t rush into any other relationships too soon. You could lose so many benefits and you are very vulnerable at that time. Be aware of predatory individuals who prey on unsuspecting widows or widowers at this time.
- Visit a counselor who can help you get back in touch with your strengths and help you rebuild your life. Stay engaged in life and with friends; take a class to update skills and make them more relevant to today; participate in social events.
- My friend says, “Because we are individuals, our grieving process is very individual. Don’t listen to anyone who is non-supportive or negative in their comments. Give yourself the time you need.”
- If you have children, beware they are grieving too. They still need you and have lost part of their relationship and security too! The entire family may benefit from bereavement counseling if they are open to it.