It doesn’t matter who you are, losing your spouse is one of the most stressful and difficult events to deal with. Losing a spouse means that your whole life has been turned upside down.
Not to mention financial changes, there is also the loss of companionship – coming home to an empty house filled now only with memories. People who have lost their spouse generally (and understandably) feel a chasm of emptiness, completely lost and as if something very integral to their survival is missing. But you can survive.
Losing a spouse is, arguably, the most stressful and difficult thing anyone can have to deal with. But deal with it you must, and deal with it you can. If not only for yourself, perhaps for your relatives, your children, your friends.
Here are some ways in which you can repair your life and carry on after losing your best friend.
- Acknowledge your loss. It is ok to mourn. It is ok to turn to others for support and to give yourself some ‘downtime’ to recover from this life-changing loss. Acknowledging this is paramount to giving yourself the appropriate time and space to heal. Remember that this grief is uniquely yours – this means that no one else had the same relationship with your partner and no one else can know the loss you are suffering. As a result you will grieve in your own special way and you should not compare your grief process to anyone else’s.
- Use this mourning time to fulfil any last requests your partner had. Perhaps it has something to do with the memorial, or simply a personal request. Make sure that this forms part of your grieving process as you honour your partner’s wishes providing you with closure and way of saying “goodbye”
- Realise that it will take some time before anything feels “normal” again. Your life has changed. When once you did everything as a team, you are now alone. Your house will feel quieter, your bed will feel bigger and social events will feel lonelier. Be patient with yourself and the process of grieving and know that one day this will all be easier.
- Recognise that there are phases of grief. From denial, anger and bargaining to depression and, finally, acceptance – there are 5 stages of grief and they do not always occur in a linear fashion. When you find yourself making deals with God (or whatever greater power you believe in) do not feel like you are losing it. Bargaining is a very real part of the grief process. As is anger and depression and you may find that you revisit some of the stages while moving quickly through others. Always, always give yourself the time to heal.
Remember that it is ok to move on and feel better. Many people struggle to move forward from the mourning period because they feel that if they get on with life then they will forget their partner and dishonour the memory of their spouse. Moving on does not mean forgetting.
Feeling happy and normal does not mean that you do not still hold a special place in your heart for your lost love.
At some point, you are going to have to let yourself feel normal and happy again. Find enjoyment in the things that used to excite you, spend time with other people socially and, perhaps even, meet someone new. When the time feels right, make sure that your need to remember and honour your spouse does not stand in your way of moving forward. If it makes it easier – keep a special memory box of your spouse’s personal belongings and items with sentimental value so that you will forever treasure their memory even though you are moving forward and enjoying life.
Losing your closest companion is one of the most difficult losses and it is important that you give yourself the necessary time to heal. Seek support and connect with others that have struggled with the same loss. If the grieving period feels complicated or overwhelming then do not hesitate to seek professional help from a counsellor or psychologist.