The death of a spouse is never easy. When you’ve chosen to build a life together, it is always hard to see it cut short, whether it lasted one year or 50. It is natural to feel a combination of emotions: Sadness, frustration, guilt, and anger are all understandable reactions to a tragedy of this magnitude. There is no shame at all in needing help during this time: Here are five pieces of advice that may bring you some solace.
- Give yourself space to grieve.
An essential part of the healing process is allowing yourself the space to feel any and all emotions that come up. Don’t be concerned about whether other people will be taken aback by your thoughts or concerns: Letting them out is crucial.
If you feel angry, let yourself be angry. If you feel sad, it is perfectly normal. If you have a happy or unencumbered moment, feel free to enjoy it. All of these are important steps in the process of feeling like yourself again.
- Establish a support system.
When you’ve just lost the person to whom you are closest, it can feel like you are alone. This isn’t true: Reach out to friends and family who are willing to support you during this time. Grief can make the logistics, like figuring out funeral plans, very difficult. Having another person around to serve as a stabilizing presence is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
For many people, it helps to join a support group comprising people who are dealing with the same situation. In this setting, you know that others have gone through the same thing that you have and can provide guidance based on experience. It can also help to have an outlet where you can talk about your loved one.
- Know your limits.
As a huge part of your spouse’s life, it’s reasonable that you would want to take the lead in their end-of-life care. However, it’s crucial to know your limits and what you are physically and emotionally capable of. If you have a difficult time shopping for cremation urns or handling their financial information, allow another family member to complete those tasks. Take regular time to check in with yourself about how you are feeling and reach out to others if you become overwhelmed.
- Practice self-care.
Find what solace you can.
During times of loss, one of the first things that falls by the wayside is the health of the grievers. People forget to eat, have trouble sleeping, and could not be less interested in exercising. While it is perfectly normal to care less about such things during a difficult time, it is important to continue to tend to your own health. As much as you can, continue to keep healthy habits, such as a balanced diet and regular exercise. Try to avoid overindulgence in alcohol or cigarettes as a coping mechanism.
If you do fear that tending to your own needs will be too difficult, reach out and ask a friend or family member to help keep you on track. For example, they can bring over home-cooked meals or exercise with you on the days when you don’t feel up to doing it alone.
- Don’t be afraid to laugh.
You and your spouse shared many happy times while you were together, and that doesn’t have to end once they’ve passed on. It’s perfectly normal to feel moments of humor or joy during periods of grief, and you should cherish these opportunities. Happy memories can be sources of light during dark times, and research suggests that laughter may be an important part of the healing process.
There is no magic solution to navigating loss. While taking certain measures can help you deal with grief, the sadness you feel when a spouse passes away is intimately tied to the love you had for them while they were alive. As much as you can, focus on the positive and take care of yourself.
For more information about coping with loss, please contact us today.