Whether your spouse dies at a young age or well into their retirement years, your loss can throw daily routines, families traditions and life goals into disarray. Now on your own, you may not only struggle with your grief, but must learn to live on your own, take care of children, finances, household tasks and other chores without the help of a partner. For some, the transition can be terrifying and lonely. With the right support, it is possible to adjust. Bereaved spouses may experience:
Feelings of shock, numbness, confusion and despair are normal. Bereaved spouses may feel guilt and anger that they have been left behind. Some have trouble eating, sleeping, concentrating or making decisions. Other physical responses include headaches, achy muscles and even nausea as they cope with their loved one’s death.
Many also feel overwhelmed and stressed as they wonder what their future holds.
For bereaved spouses, your emotions are complex
As you mourn your partner, you may worry about your children and loved ones who grieve their parent, friend or relative too.
Express your emotions
Avoid bottling up emotions to protect the other bereaved people in your life or to appear strong. Expressing your emotions will help cope with your grief.
Take good care of yourself
It’s important to care for your physical health as your emotions are reeling. As much as you can, eat healthfully and get enough rest and exercise. Be gentle on yourself.
Find support from loved ones
Look toward friends or family who may also be grieving a loss. Sometimes sharing happy memories can provide solace. If you’re struggling with managing finances, caring for children or taking care of other household issues, ask for help – and accept it when it’s offered.
Remember it takes time
All people experience grief in different ways, and some days and weeks are harder than others. Don’t expect your grief to turn off at some point in time and that you will suddenly feel much better. The death of a spouse is life-altering. It takes time to adjust. Be patient with yourself.
Grieving spouses, especially, can struggle with loneliness. Find ways to bring people into your life. Stay active in a book club. Volunteer with a community group. Go for walks with friends or neighbors. Set up regular visits with friends and family.
Grief that becomes all-consuming and prevents you from carrying on with your life can be a red flag for depression. Check with your doctor or see a therapist to help you find ways to cope.