Losing a spouse may be the most stressful life event you can have in your life. In fact, the Holmes and Rahe stress scale has identified ‘death of a spouse’ as the top stressor, with a score of 100 assigned to it. Despite this, there are several effective ways to help you survive the loss of a spouse.
- Allow yourself to feel grief. Denial is a normal part of the grieving process; at one point, you may find yourself refusing to believe or respond to the situation. This may save you temporarily, but the more you don’t accept reality, the more you tire yourself and the more pain you feel. Grieving is not a bad thing, because it is a testimony of how much you treasure your spouse’s presence and the memories you have of him or her. Feel your grief, but always keep in mind that you have to regain your strength as well, for your own sake and for those who depend on you.
- Express your grief. This may take the form of journal writing, scrapbook making, talking about your spouse, or even something as simple and natural as crying. Expression of feelings helps you in several ways. First, it makes you feel better as you don’t have to hold it in. Second, it turns your emotions into concrete ideas and forms, thus you may handle what you feel better. Third, it encourages communication between you and other people, which lightens the burden and enables others to help you more effectively.
- Be with other people. People feel better when they are surrounded by friends and family who support and love them. Stay with other people and avoid being alone especially if it escalates your grief. Try joining support groups. However, never let other people interfere with your emotions and decisions. You have the right to feel and the right to make decisions yourself, no matter how distraught you may be.
- Distract yourself. Do things that cheer you up or otherwise make you busy. Though it may be tempting for you to do things that remind you of your married life, avoid doing them if you want to lessen the impact of your sadness. It is better if you go out with friends, as going out alone may depress you. In line with this, avoid places or keep away things that provoke intense feelings, until you have regained your emotional stability.
- Improve things. Don’t let your sadness keep you from improving things or yourself. Read self-help books, take up a hobby, excel in something, help other people, redecorate the house, or do anything productive. The feeling you get cheers you up and boosts your self-esteem, making you a stronger person.
- Fix the papers. You may have to take care of documents, such as the will, certificates, insurance policies, and the like. Hire a professional if you are having trouble comprehending or making decisions about matters that involve finances or legal documents. If possible, delay signing anything unless you have cleared your mind. Keep documents in a fire-proof, water-proof and theft-proof safe.
- Get help. As this is a stressful time period, don’t tire yourself by doing tasks that you can delegate to other people. Find people you trust to do things that have to be done, such as chores, errands, and the like. Seek the services of a psychologist or a counselor to help you in your difficulties.
Losing a spouse is a normal part of married life, and millions of people have experienced and survived the situation you are in now. Though you may think it is impossible to get over your grief, refuse to give up. As long as you are alive, you can and will find joy. Grieve fully, and then give yourself the chance to feel happy once more.