Support Us

Grieving the Death of a Spouse

Losing a spouse is devastating and requires one of the most significant life adjustments you’ll ever have to make. Some experts say that the loss and the new identity it thrusts upon you take at least three years to adjust to and often much longer. You are accustomed to someone’s continued presence, from a greeting when you come home to having someone to share with your daily life. But, they’re no longer there for the stories to share over dinner, pats on the arm, or the little negotiations over who will do this or that. Suddenly, they’re missing. It’s natural and appropriate that you should grieve both these seemingly minor losses as well as the significant loss of your spouse. Because your spouse was a daily presence, you may find yourself preoccupied thinking and dreaming of them. You may look for them in a crowd or feel confident that you just saw them from the corner of your eye. Some people keep re-experiencing the circumstances or events around their partner’s death. Others find themselves sticking to old routines by setting the table for two, reading something, turning to tell their spouse wanting to tell about it, and picking up the phone to call them. All of this is natural and expected.

Loneliness is one of the biggest challenges

Because your spouse or partner was such a significant part of your daily life, their loss is usually felt more immediately and for longer. Regardless of the time spent together, this is the person you chose to spend life with. You valued their unique qualities, humor or charm, intellect, kindness, or strength, and no one will ever take their place. As acute as your loss feels now, being alone doesn’t mean a lifetime of loneliness. It may be tempting to isolate yourself at this time, but reaching out to others for support is critical.

Learn About Our Virtual Support Groups


Finances are another challenge


If your spouse managed the finances and you’re unsure of where you stand, don’t be embarrassed or ashamed. In most households, one spouse — husband or wife — handles the day-to-day finances, and there seems to be no reason to discuss the details. But when the death of a spouse comes suddenly and unexpectedly, the surviving partner is often left unprepared. Unfortunately, financial matters are often a challenge immediately after the death of a spouse, at a time when you feel least able to manage them. In addition to regular bills, you may have hospice or funeral costs and more. Enlist a trusted family member, friend, or financial advisor to help you make sound decisions and stay on top of any financial obligations or decisions that need to be made.


There are additional considerations for seniors


The death of a spouse, and your resulting financial situation, may necessitate a change in your living situation. That decision is best pushed off for 6–12 months. If possible, no significant decisions should be made during the initial stages of grief. But for some seniors, losing a spouse can lead to the end of independent living. If your physical limitations meant you depended on your spouse’s support, this sudden shift from independence provides another reason to grieve. If you are dealing with this situation, seek out others who have gone through a similar experience. If you are moving to an assisted living community, many peers and professionals can help you through this adjustment period.


You will eventually redefine yourself, and your life

You have gone from being a husband, wife, or partner to a widow or widower. These words feel harsh and confining, and it’s difficult but critical to ensuring that the new title doesn’t define you. As time passes, you will regain your energy and your hope for the future, as distant or unreachable as that may feel right now.


When you’re coping with grief, it is both essential and challenging to take care of yourself. Your loss may take away your energy, appetite, and emotional reserves. As you cope, topics that may be useful to you include the Mourner’s Bill of Rights, as well as the recommended readings to the right.


Another critical factor in healing from the loss of a spouse is the support of other people. Having your family, friends, or a community of others who have also experienced grief allows you to feel that someone else “gets it.” Being able to share your story or your feelings is vital to the healing process.

COPYRIGHTS © 2018 HealGrief All rights reserved.