The trauma of losing a spouse is something that many of us will unfortunately experience. When you are in mourning, you may feel grief and intense sorrow. You may feel guilty for living longer than your significant other, or you may feel overwhelmed by the events surrounding their final days. You may even feel resentment towards your spouse for seemingly abandoning you. This range of emotions is normal, and everyone experiences the stages of grief differently.
Grieving for a loved one can affect us both emotionally and physically. You may find you have little interest in eating or sleeping, or that you have difficulty focusing on ideas and making decisions. Realizing you need to put your life back in order will take time, and some people begin to feel better sooner than others.
Here are some tips to help you cope with the loss and get back to living your life.
- Take care of your health. Mourning the loss of a loved one can affect our health significantly. Once you begin to feel a bit better, focus on your health by trying to eat the right foods again, and make it a goal to get some fresh air and exercise daily.
- Reach out to family and friends. Contact your family and tell them you want to talk about your spouse. Being with people can help with the grieving process by allowing you to share your feelings, as well as help bring you back to the present. It may be a relief to grieve as a group, so let others share their feelings and thoughts as well, as they may be mourning too.
- Avoid major decisions. Try not to make any big changes to your life while you’re grieving, such as changing jobs or moving, as this will add unnecessary stress.
- Get back in the community. Check out the meetings at local libraries or join an exercise class at the senior center. Many groups meet regularly for meals, which can be beneficial if mealtimes trigger feelings of loneliness and grief.
- Check in with your doctor. If daily living has become difficult, such as preparing meals or taking care of basic hygiene, contact your doctor for a checkup. Your doctor can rule out physical concerns and may recommend a visit or two with a therapist who specializes in grief.
Mourning periods, while different for everyone, are rarely constant. At some point, you may realize that your grief is subsiding, and you may realize you’re finding some joy with family and friends. Although it may be difficult, do not feel guilty. Accept support from family and friends and you will find eventually that you are able to move on, while still remembering your spouse.
If you find that you need help with activities of daily living, a professionally-trained and compassionate caregiver can help. At Home Care Assistance, we help keep older adults involved in their lives in all aspects – physically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. If loneliness is a concern while you are living newly alone, Home Care Assistance caregivers can provide important companionship while you remain at home.