Losing a beloved spouse is extremely difficult. Even if it feels like your grief is never going to end, it’s important to remember that you will begin to heal. It takes time, and there are healthy ways to deal with your grief.
Let Yourself Mourn
You can never replace your spouse. This is an emotionally charged time. Allow yourself to feel grief. You may experience confusion, anger, sorrow, and anything in between, and they are all appropriate emotions. No one can predict how they will mourn, and there is no correct way to grieve. Your emotions may change daily, and that’s okay. It only becomes an issue when mourning becomes a lasting depression, but there are ways to try to make sure that doesn’t happen. By accepting that your grief may not be like anything you or anyone you know has experienced, you have made the first step toward recovery.
Learn to Tune Out Others
No one has all the answers on how to deal with tragedy. People often become awkward or may struggle to find the right thing to say. They may say things that, outside of the situation, they would realize sound stupid or strange. Your family or your friends may have your best interests at heart, but they don’t always know what is best for you. They don’t know how you process grief or what will ease the suffering. It may be difficult, but try to learn to tune out what they say, especially if it comes off as offensive. If they try to pressure you into grieving in a way that they think is healthy, you don’t need to listen. You don’t need to take anyone’s advice.
Articulate Your Grief
You may be tempted to hold your grief in or to be strong for those around you. But you don’t have to. Men especially have a hard time verbalizing or communicating their grief after a spouse has passed. This can lead to extended and untreated grief and at worst, a shortened lifespan. Find a way to express what you’re feeling, especially if you’re struck by loneliness and depression. There is no need to suffer this alone. There is someone somewhere to talk to, whether it’s family, friends, or a counselor. There are even online wellness courses for seniors.
Grief can lead us toward things that can be truly harmful. However tempting, it’s imperative that substances be avoided. They cannot offer a permanent or meaningful solution to the hurt and anguish you’re experiencing. In fact, substances are likely to worsen the symptoms of grief and create their own problems. It’s important to understand the signs and symptoms of substance abuse so you can treat it before it becomes a larger problem. There are positive alternatives, such as therapy or volunteering, that can help you toward healing.
At first, this may seem impossible. On the other hand, it may not. Everyone grieves differently. Everyone feels differently. Regardless of how improbable it seems, do your utmost to think back on the positive memories you have. The more you remember the good times, the more you smile and laugh while thinking and speaking of your spouse, and the healthier you may be. Research suggests that focusing on the happy times you had makes your transition and recovery easier.
Let’s be clear. You will always miss your spouse, but that doesn’t mean you have to constantly be in a state of extreme grief. It’s healthy to recover and to learn how to smile again and how to do things alone. After all, your spouse wouldn’t want you to suffer any more than you would want him or her to. Allow yourself to start the process of healing, in whatever way works best for you.
The blog post was submitted by Hazel Bridges. Ms. Bridges is a Wellness Coach for Seniors