Dealing with the loss of a spouse can be one of the most traumatic and stressful events in a person’s life. This loss often occurs during a stage when many other changes are occurring. Children are grown and have moved away, the couple has retired and has experienced a significant change in routine, financial status may be up or down, contacts with friends and acquaintances may have been curtailed and the widow or widower’s own health may be declining.
During this time of dramatic upheaval where physical, psychological and spiritual boundaries are challenged, accepting that the grieving process will not be brief makes the whole process even more difficult. In going through this mourning period with many individuals, I have found that a period of one to two years is often necessary. The grieving process, given its length is not too extreme, is one of the most essential elements in the healing process.
Reconstructing a daily pattern of life, during the early months of grieving, can be very difficult. Many individuals find themselves alone for the first time since early adulthood. Loneliness seems intolerable and it may feel as if your only confidants are those who have experienced type of loss. Women who have lost their mates are often overwhelmed by activities they were not responsible for in the past, such as mechanical repairs and financial details.
Following are some suggestions that those suffering from the loss of a spouse might find helpful:
- Let family provide nurturance and support. Additionally, professionals such as mental health specialists, clergy and doctors can be of assistance.
- Grief and loss support groups are also extremely helpful. The opportunity to process and share feelings with others experiencing similar difficulties can be invaluable in the healing process.
- Don’t rely on your children to pave the way for you during this transition. Most children will be supportive, but will be proud and be grateful if you allow them to lead their lives while you begin to reconstruct yours.
Through pain, time and love, healing and adjustment can occur allowing the survivor to move on and into the future.