Dealing with the loss of a spouse can be a difficult time in ones life and it is something that the majority of people will have to face at some point. An article published in the Journal of Gerontology stated currently, “about 13% of men and about 40% of women aged 65 and older, and 57% of women aged 75 and older, are widows” and “nearly half of the population necessarily experience widowhood during their life.” The authors go on to say, “The only ways of avoiding it are to never marry, to divorce and never remarry, or to predecease your spouse.” Because widowhood is something that many people experience, there is a lot of information out there regarding the effects of losing a spouse. It is evident that the loss of a spouse generally changes a person’s life in substantial ways. The major issues for many surviving spouses have included the loss of a social environment and the struggle to adjust to participating in activities that were once done as a couple, financial confusion or instability, loss of companionship, loss of dreams and future plans that were initially made with the spouse, loneliness, feeling as if a part of you has died, and the feeling of expectations to fill the role of two parents. Mourning a loved one and dealing with the above feelings is certainly a process.
Below is a compilation of ways that others have coped with the loss of a spouse:
• Allow yourself to mourn. Attempting to postpone the grief process will only delay the process. Filling your day with endless activities may temporarily separate you from the pain, but it will remain there until you choose to face it. The sooner your face it, the sooner you can heal. One way of doing this is by joining a grief support group. This will give you the opportunity to acknowledge the grief and work through this difficult time by talking about it with others and learning more about the grieving process.
• Remind yourself that you have the ability to get through this. It is normal to feel temporarily unstable after experiencing a major loss. Do not let that initial feeling of instability to discourage you. Remind yourself that this is part of the process and that you will be able to cope.
• Be aware that the stress from losing a spouse can lead to health related issues. If you begin experiencing changes in your physical or mental health it is advised to seek help. Dr. Mary R. Donahue states that you may be stuck in the grief process and should seek help if you are experiencing any of the following: continued weight loss, sleep problems, chronic feelings of fear or desperation, inability to stay alone, reversion to a childish state, inability to make decisions or making a series of bad decisions because concentration is too difficult, unwillingness to talk about anything but the loss. The rest of Dr. Donahue’s article Widowhood the Psychological Traps How to Deal with Them, can be found at http://www.havenofnova.org/articles/widow_widowers_grief/widowhood.pdf
• After losing a spouse there is financial business and other important tasks to take care of. Seeking the help of professionals such as Financial Planners, Elder Care Attorneys and Daily Money Managers may help you not only deal with difficult initial steps but can also help secure important planning for you future.
• Talk to family members or other supports about your feelings and memories.
• Accept offers for company. Your friends and family want to be there for you during this time and their company and support will be helpful to you.
If you are interested in joining a support group click on the following links to find a group in your area:
- http://www.drvc-faith.org/wp-content/uploads/Now-1-30-14.pdf – Nassau and Suffolk
- http://211longisland.communityos.org/zf/profile/service/id/590312 – Nassau
- http://www.centerforbereavement.com/aboutA.html – New York City
You may also be interested in an on-line support group: