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.