How to cope with a spouse’s death
People who have lost a partner often wonder if they will ever feel whole again. If this is you, here's how to cope with a spouse's death.
Your wedding vows had the words ‘till death do us part,’ and you excitedly repeated after the preacher without thinking about what it really meant. To people exchanging vows, this phrase probably meant that their love would stand the test of time, that it would last a lifetime. The death of a spouse can turn a person’s world upside down.
The pain doesn’t get easier even if your partner had been sick and you had been expecting them to pass. It might not feel like it right now that the pain is still fresh, but you can learn how to cope with a spouse’s death.
How to cope with a spouse’s death: will the pain ever go away?
When a person loses their spouse to death, they will have to make lots of changes. Grief can be overwhelming when you have to live your life without your favourite person there beside you. Eventually, the loss will feel less painful, but while you work towards that, here are some tips to help you cope.
1. It’s okay to cry
There’s no right or wrong way to grief. The emotions can range from depression to fear and disbelief. Anger is also another form of grief, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Anger can manifest when a person feels abandoned by their death spouse—yes, grief is sometimes irrational.
You have probably heard that you need to go through the five stages of grief before you finally overcome the feeling of loss. But if you want to know the secret of how to cope with a spouse’s death, you should know that you will never be completely over it. There’ll be days when it doesn’t hurt as bad, but it is an event you will never forget.
2. How to cope with a spouse's death: go easy on yourself
Guilt is a tangible part of losing a spouse. You might feel guilty for surviving them or just getting to experience the things they’ll never experience again. The fact that you survived this loss means that you have to find a way to learn how to cope with a spouse’s death. They are gone, but you still have to forge ahead.
3. Don’t expect everyone to understand what you are going through
Most people mean well in these situations. So try not to get offended when people come up to you to offer condolences and then tell you that your spouse is in a better place. The place to be would be still alive and beside you. Most times they don’t mean to upset you, it’s just that they don’t know the right words to say.
There’ll be friends and family who won’t want to talk about it. This does not necessarily mean that they don’t care about your situation. Some people just don’t know how to handle grief or they too may be so deep in grief and unwilling to mention your spouse’s passing.
4. Pay attention to your physical health
Grief usually comes with appetite and sleep problems. It might also come with an overwhelming desire to abuse alcohol or drugs just to numb the pain. Hard as it is, you will need to eat, sleep and exercise. These three activities will help you get through it. Also, alcohol and drugs might momentarily numb the pain, but these would cause more problems for you.
5. Work on your social life
Your social life will change now that you are suddenly single again, but knowing how to cope with a spouse’s death will mean having to address this aspect of your life.
If you and your partner used to hang out with other couples in your circle, it might feel strange to go at it alone. Having to mix up with other couples can maximize the feeling of loss. So, if you are not ready to face this reminder, you can always relay these fears to your friends so that they will understand when you don’t hang around them much anymore.
Once you are up to it, you can start taking classes or going to places where you are sure to make new friends.
6. Don’t be ashamed to ask for support
If the feeling gets overwhelming, you can turn to religious bodies, family, and friends for support. You can join support groups to find people who are also going through the same thing. If there are no local groups close to you, you can find them online.
Talking about your feelings can have a healing effect, so consider seeing a therapist.
How to cope with a spouse’s death: dealing with complicated grief
Complicated grief can affect you to the point where you find it difficult to move on with your life. You might need to seek medical treatment if you:
• Wish you had died alongside your spouse
• Have no desire to continue living
• Feel as though you no longer have any purpose
• Blame yourself for your partner’s passing
• Find it hard to cope from one day to the next
Losing a life partner is hard, but these tips on how to cope with a spouse’s death can help you live a fulfilling life despite the loss.