How to overcome the loss of a Spouse
When we say, “till death do us part”, we never really think through it neither does it ever sink in that we will not live forever; that death will actually separate us. The truth is, half of the married couples will experience the loss of their husbands or wives. Some even twice, that is for those widows and widowers who remarried.
And it got me really thinking how tough it must be to cope with the death of a spouse. Someone you shared your life with, had kids with and probably shared a bed with at least every single night. You suddenly find yourself alone and in pain, your all life turned upside down especially if you are very dependent on your spouse. You suddenly realize the wide gap left by your spouse.
With kids to take care of, new tasks and responsibilities that you were not used to taking care of, routine messed up, it does not get any easier. The grieving even becomes more with the thought of the burdens left behind.
You may find that people will avoid you because you no longer fit in their circle or social status or that they don’t know how to treat you or act around you. Same applies to family members. You might even be the one to isolate yourself as you feel you have lost your identity.
Loneliness will also creep in and you might find yourself overwhelmed that you dread the nightfall, weekends or holidays.
Stages of grieve
According to Elizabeth Kubler Ross, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression , nd acceptance. These are the profound responses to loss and are in no particular order.
When we first receive the shocking news, we immediately run into shock and since our brains are not yet ready to accept the news we drift to denial. This is our brain’s first way to dealing with the loss. Then comes the anger and depression, then overtime, we accept and learn to live with the loss.
How to cope
Accept your loss.
This is the route to healing, accepting that you have lost your spouse. That you will never see them again, tell them all you wish you had told them or even treat them better. However much it seems unreal or you get overwhelmed with emotions, you must accept.
It is okay to Cry
Cry as much as you can and often as you wish to. It our body’s natural way of releasing the pain caused by the loss. A part of you is gone, so feeling disoriented, angry, broken and devastated is very much accepted. Let no one stop you and don’t try to hide your tears. Let them flow.
Grieve your own way
No two experiences are the same when it comes to death so don’t compare yourself to anyone else who lost a spouse. Your relationship with your spouse was unique and very intimate. It is only natural that you will mourn him or her in a special way. Let no one tell you how and what to do or not to do. Mourn at your own pace. Let’s face it, you will never get over the fact that you spouse is dead but you will slowly adjust to them not being present. Cultural and religious practices may affect how you grief though. Like some religions require you to be indoors for 40days to just mourn your spouse, others will dictate how you will dress during the mourning period but at the end, it is entirely your choice. Just don’t rush it, take a day at a time.
Share your thoughts and feelings
Share honestly how you feel and what you think about the loss. This helps you to let out what is in you and you will feel relieved. Talk about them, the kind of person they were and share the memories the two of you had. Talk about how you miss them and how you wish to see them one more time.
Find a support system
Could be your friends, family or a grief therapist, whomever you will feel more comfortable with. It could be even other widows are widowers who have or are walking in your journey. It really helps to know that there are people who get what you are going through and are willing to give you a shoulder to lean on. Be with people who will give you the space and the chance to mourn peacefully without putting pressure on you to move on fast.
Anticipate a lot of varied Emotions
The loss of a spouse is one journey that will leave you feeling all sorts of emotions at a go. You may find yourself at the parking lot crying suddenly. Just don’t hold on, let the cry out. You may at times feel confused, guilty, disoriented, fearful and relived all at a go. Allow yourself to go through the emotions and expect more episodes of these.
Be Accommodative of your Physical and Emotional Outbursts
There will be days when you feel like you are over the loss, that you have accepted and are moving on well and then there will be days that it will feel as though you just received the news of your spouse’s death. You may even find that there are days you are energetic and are ready to take on the world and other days you will feel fatigued, tired and worn out. All these are normal so be tolerant of your body and mind. As much as possible try to pay attention to your well being, eat well and take a rest. Shelve all those responsibilities and decisions to a later date when you can handle them. Again, don’t feel guilty about being happy once again or getting back to your routines soon.
Take your time with your spouse’s belongings
Don’t be in a rush to pack all his belongings and let go. It is okay to hold on to them until you are ready to.
There is no timeline to the grieving process. So take your time. One day you will heal and be able to cope with the fact that you lost your spouse because we never actually get over it, we learn to live with the fact. Hold on to the memories, they will keep you going.