Widower Grief - Coping with the Loss of a Wife

Widower grief is such a cold title for what describes sorrow for the death of a loved one.  Many men will not relate to this term, especially those who have suffered the tragic loss of a wife at a young age.  But this is the term we have kept to describe the sad feelings of men who have been unfortunate enough to be widowed.  We hope this page will be of some practical use in helping men to cope with the challenges of widower grief, or loss of their life partner. 

Over the years I have known many friends or family members who have lost their wives.  The ones who were totally overwhelmed during the first few months were those whose home, family and garden were one hundred percent their everyday life.  Some of them just could not cope with being alone and were lucky enough to meet and marry again in the next couple of years. 

Many men find that they are alone for the first time in their lives.  Lots of men go from living with parents to living with a partner without ever having experienced living alone.  This too can be daunting, especially for those who have spent many years with a partner and growing family.   If being alone is a problem some people like to get a pet.  But remember they can be a tie when you want a holiday and vets costs can be expensive.

black dog beside fireplace to alleviate widower griefPets can help make the house seem less empty

Widower grief of young men with children

Young men are often left with young families and full time work to cope with. This is a huge challenge as the children are grieving too. A good support network is needed in this situation and men shouldn't be afraid to ask for help from aunts and uncles, grandparents and schools. Many single parents have these challenges. See also Children and Grief, and Death of parents of young children on this site.

The loneliness and quiet around the home can be isolating, however with time your own routines and hobbies take up time and you eventually enjoy the time which is your own.

Loss of wife close to retirement

From childhood to manhood lives follow routines.  Then suddenly losing a partner leaves a huge gap in your life.  It's a huge lifestyle change if this loss is at the same time as retirement, with the combined loss of workplace colleagues too.  Often children have grown up and moved on with their lives and the sudden isolation may seem overwhelming.   Many firms today give courses for preparing for retirement.  They can be full of useful ideas, as the sense of grief for this lifestyle change can be serious.

When men leave the services this same loss can be felt.  Their lives have been regimented for many years.

How personality affects how individuals cope with the loss of a wife

Personality plays a part in how, as individuals, we cope with grief.  An outgoing socialite still has a group of friends. The golfer and other sportsmen still have their pursuits to occupy their days. But those who were quiet, home loving folk, may find it more difficult to adapt. 

Most of us have school, then work, and very little time for ourselves.   We have not had many choices on how to fill our time.  This can be a difficult skill to learn anew, especially late in life.

Boat on a cool blue lake expressing loneliness after loss of a wife

How to cope with widower grief day to day

Often setting some routines for yourself can help.  A day to shop, a day to do the finances,  a day to do the cleaning, a day to wash the car and do the gardening.  But it is important not to spend too much time alone.  Make time to get out and meet family and friends.  Leave time for hobbies and have a serious think about your options and your interests.

It can be difficult suddenly being a single person among couple friends, and sadly sometimes the invitations tend to drop away, as people can be afraid of what to say to you.  So it's a good idea to find some activities where you are among groups.   Don't be afraid to join a group where you will meet people.  Socialising with friends is important when you live alone.

Organise nights out with friends or invite them to you, some men are not used to this role as it was their wives who were the social secretaries but you can do it.  This is your time now.

Eat when you like, sleep when you like.  Go on holiday if you want.  Go fishing with friends.  None of us know how long our lifespan will be so try to take life a day at a time and enjoy what you can.  Enjoying yourself again will creep in when you least expect it.

The going may get tough, so don't be afraid to talk to friends and neighbours, but it is you that has to come to terms with the situation that is now.  Anger and totally negative thoughts won't help. 

Men are allowed to cry and often it can be good for your health and you may feel better afterwards.  You may find talking through your anger, your thoughts, feelings and fears may help.  Or perhaps expressing these feelings through writing, art, or some physical activity would be more suited to your temperament. 

Give yourself permission to be happy again.  Would your beloved partner have wanted you spend the rest of your life being unhappy?  Would you have wanted that for your partner if you had died first?

If you're coping with widower grief it's important to get out and keep busy

Take up bowls or golf.   Join a cycling club, have bridge lessons.  There are local hiking groups, carpentry classes where men get together and repair or make toys for children.  The University of the 3rd Age have brochures full of interesting courses.  Learn a language, or a new skill.   Join an automobile club, or a collector's club.  Some groups get together and have remote controlled cars or boats.  Charity shops and hospitals, or meals on wheels always need volunteers. 

If you are a grandparent get involved with the grandchildren if possible.  Visit school events and watch their sports.

Make a wish list and treat yourself, your time is precious.  One friend even went and got a pilot's license, something he had always dreamed about but never had the time.

Learn to combat widower grief with relaxation techniques and exercise

It has been discovered that men too are finding yoga and meditation a huge help in relieving stress.  The exercises help the physical health, and the relaxation techniques relieve all the built up anxiety.  It helps to get rid of the negative thoughts and anger you may feel.  It is a valuable tool and a good way to learn to do relaxing therapy at home yourself.

Grief support groups can be useful, but do try another group if the first one isn't for you.  Don't just give up.

Mist over a lake.  Sad and moody expressing grief.

Don't be afraid to walk along the pathways of grief.  Acceptance is ahead but you will never forget your loved one.  Enjoy those memories.

My very best wishes

Recommended Read: 

Related Pages: 

More help with "loss of husband, wife or partner"

More recommended books on grief for widows and widowers

> > Widower Grief


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