Living On- Grief Management in the Wake of Losing a Spouse
Written by: Hazel Bridges
Your partner, your spouse, your better half. When the person you shared so much of life with is gone, you can feel like your world is empty. Carrying on with life can seem impossible at times. Here is important advice for healing and living a fulfilling life.
Grief and what’s normal
Losing your spouse can bring on a host of emotions, or you may feel completely numb. You may feel tangible, physical pain; you may want to wail and moan; you may want to surround yourself with friends and family; or you may want to be alone, grieving quietly. As the National Aging Institute explains, there are no wrong ways to grieve. The process is highly personal. Pain can be both physical and emotional. You may experience trouble concentrating and making decisions, or you may struggle getting sleep and finding an appetite. Getting through the day and managing your life can feel overwhelming, and you may struggle with putting your life back into order. Your family members and friends can help you, and faith organizations can be sources of support. Some people benefit from grief counseling, support groups, or therapy. In time, your pain will ease. You may even enter new relationships. It’s important to know that it’s okay—and healthy—to rebuild your life.
Take care of yourself
Sometimes during painful experiences, we don’t take proper care of ourselves. This can be true following loss, or before a loss. If your loved one is suffering with an extended illness, chances are you’re experiencing anticipatory grief. Some experts explain that with anticipatory grief, you start the grieving process as soon as you fully grasp the impending loss of your loved one. When you’re grieving, your health can suffer. It’s important to make eating right, getting exercise, and sleeping and resting a priority. Spend time with friends who understand your situation. Seniors might consider participating in an online wellness course. For younger survivors, it’s particularly vital that you tend to your health. As some statistics show, people who lose their spouses at a young age are at an increased risk for death from various causes.
Taking care of your spouse
If you are preparing for the loss of a loved one, creating a peaceful home environment can benefit you both. Given the option, most people choose to spend the last portion of their lives at home. By making your home a sanctuary, you both can feel comforted. Create a clean, soothing space, keeping close as many familiar personal items as possible. Make arrangements to accommodate any special equipment, and allow your loved one to stay as independent as possible throughout the journey.
When you’re ill
If you have a terminally ill condition, there are steps you can take to ease the transition for your spouse. For instance, Cancer Research UK recommends making something to leave behind, providing loved ones an opportunity to remember you and relive times with you. This may be very important to you, especially if you will leave small children behind. It is an opportunity for your kids to connect and know you after you are gone. Your gift could be a video, audio recording, or an assembly of letters. You could create a blog or journal thoughts, or make a scrapbook or memory box. Also, some professionals recommend that when your time is drawing near, you may wish to give loved ones a moment to talk privately. Many people find the opportunity to voice and hear final thoughts healing.
Loss and living
When you lose a spouse, your entire world changes. Take care of yourself while you navigate this most difficult process. You are worth it. It’s what your loved one would want, and in time, you will begin to live again.