Help Grieving the Loss of Your Husband or Wife
Elizabeth Postle shares her years of experience in coping with the loss of a husband or wife or the loss of your life’s partner. After a 45 year career in nursing helping the bereaved, Elizabeth lost her own husband, and coped by following her own advice.
People who have lost loved ones after many years of marriage or shared lives find it very difficult to cope. It’s like losing a limb or a whole way of life. They have also lost the warmth of physical intimacy. Many people feel that they have lost their identity or their purpose in life. You may have spent many years committed to providing for or caring for your husband, wife or partner and possibly their family.
The Initial Shock after Losing a Spouse
Don’t worry if tears are not far away, or you feel as if you are on autopilot most of the time. It will all help you get through the loss and pain. It will get easier. And you are not going to forget your loved one.
You may also feel anxious and find it difficult to cope with simple tasks. These are all normal and due to your body and mind being in shock.
Read about the effects of shock here.
The Death of a Loved One Creates Many Worries
There may be many worries, how will I cope, mentally, physically, financially? Will I have to move? These are just some of the challenges you may have to face and which I will help you with in the pages of my site.
But say to yourself “I am fine, I can cope, it is my time now”.
You are learning to cope without your loved one, this is an essential task for you. No-one else can do it for you. Yes, you must ask for support from friends and families during difficult periods, but in the end it’s all up to you.
How to Find Yourself Again after the Loss of a Husband or Wife
Remember you are still important. You may have lived quite happily for 20 years or more before meeting your partner. That person is still you. The fact that you might have chosen to spend a lot of your life feeding, clothing and financing the family means you should be very proud and now able to spoil yourself. Do all the things you put off doing for the family's needs. Go back to some of your early dreams and fulfill them. There are many mature university students who are back getting the degree they missed in their early years.
What were your dreams?
There will be setbacks, there will be many challenges. You can cope, you can be positive. Give yourself permission to laugh with friends and enjoy a night out at the movies. It’s your time now. Make the most of it. Enjoy your children and grandchildren.
Read more about Loss of Self-identity after the Loss of Husband, Wife or Partner
Try to Be Positive and You Can Fool Yourself As Well As Others
When friends ask how are you, say “Fine thanks”. It’s good for you, as
after a while you believe it too. It’s no use pouring out your troubles
to everyone you meet. They have their own problems too. Eventually
people will start to avoid you and stop talking to you if you are miserable
all the time. My father always used to say “no-one wants to know you
if you’re miserable!”.
Keep your in-depth concerns and worries for
your chosen special people who have empathy or for your counseling
sessions. Try to be positive as much as possible. Remember, a smile
and “I’m fine thanks” is all it takes. The power of positive thinking
will surprise you. Try it!
If you do find it impossible, don’t feel bad about it, you may need help. Go and see your doctor or a professional counselor. I have written some advice about how to find some grief support.
Practical Tips about How to Cope with the Loss of a Spouse and Continue with Your Life…..
- Do help with planning the funeral or celebration of the loved one’s life. It will keep you occupied, and will help you focus on the loved one and not yourself.
- Do you have a family member who can stay for a week or two to help sort out day to day needs? You might need help to sort out finances, home maintenance, any of the tasks that your partner used to do, and which you now have to learn.
- First, stay in your home to get used to being alone. Many people move out to stay with relatives and then can’t ever face going back home. Read more about the decision to stay or move.
- Take it one day at a time.
- If you have a job, go back to work as soon as you can.
- Keep up with any groups that you belonged to or hobbies you had. Take up a new activity (here are some suggestions) and make new friends at the same time.
- Involve family and friends with your anxieties. Visit them all.
- Visit friends that you’d neglected as a couple. Accept any invitations that come your way.
- Try to plan jobs or outings for each day. Wake up knowing today is for shopping for groceries or lunch with a friend. Even doing housework.
- Try not to have more than one day alone in the house at a time at first. Keep busy.
- Grieve yes. Cry yes. But remember the many happy years you had together.
- Don’t wallow in self pity. It does you no good at all.
- Go out and meet friends.
- Look after your health - find out how here.
- Sit for your grandchildren. Life goes on and they need you too.
- Whatever life span you have left is valuable and precious.
- Realise that the time left is for you to do what you most want to do.
- If you find a new partner, love again. This is a compliment to your late partner. Move on and enjoy yourself. It isn’t disloyal to your deceased loved one to live life again.
Moving On after the Loss of Husband or Wife:
A good friend, who had a long career and was also a wife, mother and
grandmother lost her beloved husband after many years of happy marriage.
She mourned, she grieved, she cried. But after a while, she said,
“This is now my time to do what I like when I like.” After being at the
beck and call of family all her life, this was her special time and she
intended to enjoy it.
Major Dos and Don'ts for Coping with the Loss of Husband or Wife
- Do organise your days
- Do organise financial and household affairs
- Do Be Positive!
- Do look after yourself
- Do enjoy life with your family and friends
- Don’t have too much time alone
- Don’t go into self-pity mode
- Don’t rely on drugs and alcohol
- Don’t neglect your diet and exercise
- Don’t be too proud to ask for help or cry when you need to
- Don't be afraid to try counselling if you feel the need. These days you can get counselling online with complete confidentiality. We recommend BetterHelp for their expert professional guidance.
- Or try a self-hypnosis download for a gentle, relaxing therapy - this one has been specially created for those who have lost a partner: Death of a Partner Hypnosis Download
Elizabeth Postle had a varied and fulfilling nursing career, culminating in running her own high dependency hospice. She is the author of this website. Read more about her here.
Books Can Also Be a Great Source of Comfort
Companion Through the Darkness by Stephanie Ericsson is one of the best books we have found for those who have lost a spouse. Stephanie has a wonderfully uplifting way with words. Read more about her book and others that we recommend here.
For lots more help and comfort if you are dealing with the loss of
your husband, wife or life's partner, click on one of the following
Six Years On - How I Survived My Grief and Learned How to Make the Most of Every Day - Elizabeth Postle, author of this site, looks back at how she has coped with losing her soulmate of 54 years.
Coping with the Loss of a Wife - Specially for Men
More Pages on How to Deal with Grief
Books on Grief for Widows and Widowers
ARE YOU A BEREAVED MOTHER OR FATHER?
We are two bereaved parents who have teamed up with researchers at Yeshiva University and Memorial Sloan Kettering to study how the death of a child impacts parents’ lives, and the resulting ripple effects as life continues without our children. We invite you to participate in a survey which will help us develop resources to better support parents experiencing the heartbreak of child loss.
For mothers or fathers who have lost a child (or children) of any age, and would like to make a contribution to our understanding of bereaved parenthood, this is a way to make a difference.
If you would like to participate in our study, please fill out this confidential survey at https://yeshiva.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cUXcBDFIiWAg6Ng It will take about 20 minutes.
For more details, you can contact the Principal Investigator:
Kailey Roberts, PhD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University.
Thank you for your consideration --
Judith Kottick, LCSW and Jean Singer, PhD
IRB Approved at the Study Level, May 10, 2021. #30499052.0
Have You Considered Online Grief Counseling?
Get Private and Confidential Help in the Privacy of Your Own Home
The following information about online counseling is sponsored by 'Betterhelp' but all the opinions are our own. To be upfront, we do receive a commission when you sign up with 'Betterhelp', but we have total faith in their expertise and would never recommend something we didn't completely approve.
Do you feel alone and sad with no support and no idea how to move forward? It can be tough when you are stuck in grief to find the motivation to get the most out of your precious life.
Online counseling can help by giving you that support so you don't feel so alone. You can have someone to talk to anytime you like, a kind and understanding person who will help you to find meaning in life again, to treasure the memories of your loved one without being overwhelmed and to enjoy your activities, family and friends again.
- Simply fill out the online questionnaire and you will be assigned the expert grief counselor most suitable for you. It only takes a few minutes and you don't even have to use your name.
- Pay an affordable FLAT FEE FOR UNLIMITED SESSIONS.
- Contact your counselor whenever you like by chat, messaging, video or phone.
- You can change counselor at any time if you wish.
- Click here to find out more and get started immediately.
- Or read more about how online counseling works here.
Sales from our pages result in a small commission to us which helps us to continue our work supporting the grieving.
Memorial Jewelry to Honour a Loved One
Check out our lovely range of memorial jewelry for any lost loved one. Pendants, necklaces, rings or bracelets, we have them all in all kinds of styles. Choose for yourself or buy as a sympathy gift.
Click here to see our selection
Hypnosis for Grief - 10 Ways It Can Help You
Try a gentle hypnotherapy track to relax the mind. Learn how self-hypnosis can help you cope with grief at any time of the day or night.
Read more about it here.
Create an Online Memorial Website
Honour your loved one with their own memorial website. Share photos, videos, memories and more with your family and friends in a permanent online website. Free for basic plan with no ads.
Find out more here.
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