The death of your partner or spouse is a life-changing experience. Grieving the loss of a spouse or partner is about cherishing your memories of your loved one while remaining open to new experiences that may enrich your life.
Have compassion for yourself. The loss of a partner or spouse is a traumatic event. Allow yourself to feel conflicting emotions. At times you may feel that you don’t have enough time to grieve your loss or take care of yourself. At other times, you may feel that you have too much time. You may feel as though you are going through many different losses at the same time, such as:
- The loss of your loved one’s personality and uniqueness.
- The loss of the role he or she had in your family.
- The loss of the routines that were so much a part of your daily life.
Rest assured that such feelings are a normal part of the grieving process.
Get help with practical matters. You may be facing practical challenges, such as mounting bills or paperwork related to your partner’s death, along with new responsibilities. A family lawyer or other trusted advisor might be able to offer counsel and guidance.
Seek support. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to be yourself and who recognize your feelings. Identify people whom you can depend on for support. These may include:
- Family members and friends.
- A spiritual leader.
- Members of a support group for people who have lost a loved one.
- A social worker or other professional counselor.
Give it time. There is no timetable for grief. Although you will never stop missing your partner, as time passes your pain will ease and you will be able to go on with your life.
Honor your loved one. Do something special to honor your partner’s memory. For example, you might consider:
- Planting a tree or flowers in memory of your partner.
- Enlarging a favorite photograph and displaying it in your home.
- Setting aside regular time to simply think about your partner, or even listening to music or watching movies that you enjoyed together.
Create a remembrance album or scrapbook. Photos of your partner can help you remember how he or she looked and the life you shared together. You’ll create something that you can turn to when your feelings are especially painful, or when you just want to dwell on all your happy experiences together.
Keep a journal. Try to put your feelings and memories down on paper. Recall events and times that were important for the two of you. Think back to the tough times you helped each other through. Record your partner’s history and legacy by identifying:
- Accomplishments he or she was most proud of
- Places he or she loved
- Favorite foods, songs, holidays, and family stories
You will eventually redefine yourself, and your life.
These are some of the many things you can do to cope with the death of your loved one, and grieve in a healthy way. You have gone from being a husband, wife or partner to a widow or widower. These words feel harsh and confining, and it’s difficult but critical to ensure that the new title doesn’t define you. As time passes, you will regain both your energy and your hope for the future.