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Death of A Spouse
The death of a spouse changes everything from your daily routines and responsibilities to your social life. After sharing an intimate relationship with another person, adjusting to life without him or her may seem to be a daunting challenge.
Perhaps your spouse was your closest friend. Your spouse helped you make decisions and was your constant companion. When your spouse dies, it seems you have lost more than that person—you have lost everything that person meant to you, a part of yourself and your identity as well. You may ask yourself, “What do I do now?”
As you reconstruct your life, you must understand that common changes occur when you are grieving the loss of your loved one. Grief causes physical, emotional, spiritual and behavioral changes. Physical changes include general aches and pains as well as numbness and exhaustion. Emotionally, you may experience feelings of confusion, guilt, anger or depression. Grief may also alter your usual sleeping or eating behaviors.
While this process may take months or years, eventually you will learn to live with the grief. It is not something you will conquer quickly. Remember, there is no right or wrong way to grieve.
HELPING YOURSELF THROUGH GRIEF
Each person grieves differently. Though there are no easy answers, here are some suggestions to help you cope with both your grief and your new life.
- Be patient and accept that the grieving process takes time. Give yourself as much time as you need to grieve your loss.
- Try to maintain your daily routines.
- Your emotions may make you feel like you are riding a roller coaster—steady one minute and completely off balance the next. Realize that this is a normal response to grief.
- It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help from others. Find those who will listen to you talk about your grief. Support groups are available in most areas. Check with your local hospice, hospitals or churches for such groups.
- Memories of your loved one may be painful to recall, but you need to allow yourself to remember. You may find these memories bring a sense of comfort.
- Take a break from your grief to do something you enjoy. Finding a moment of joy does not mean you are disloyal to the memory of your loved one.
- Do not neglect your body. You will be able to cope better emotionally if you take care of yourself physically. Try to eat properly; get enough rest and exercise. It is also a good idea to have a physical exam to ensure stress is not causing problems.
— Adapted from an article by Nancy E. Crump, M.S., Certified Grief Counselor