The loss of a spouse is devastating - and probably one of the biggest life adjustments you’ll ever have to deal with. It is natural and appropriate that you grieve both the seemingly minor losses, as well as the greater losses of your spouse. Because your spouse was most likely a daily presence, you may find yourself preoccupied with thoughts and dreams of them - some people even keep re-experiencing the circumstance or events around their partner’s death. Others find themselves sticking to old routines, like still setting the table for two, or picking up the phone to call them - all of this is natural and expected.
Loneliness Is The Hardest Part
Loneliness is probably one of the biggest challenges because your spouse was such a major part of your daily life. Regardless of the length of your relationship, this person is the one you made long-term plans with or chose to spend the rest of your life with. You appreciated their unique qualities, charm, intellect, strength, etc - and as acute as the loss feels now, being alone or without them doesn’t mean a lifetime of loneliness. It may feel tempting to isolate and and feel like nothing will ever be the same, but reaching out to others for support is critical. You can reach out on your own time, but reaching out to a friend, family member, or a support person can be a major part in feeling less alone.
Finances Can Become Challenging
Your Physical Health Is Just As Important As Mental
Grieving can take a toll on your body, as well as your emotions. You may have no appetite or have trouble sleeping. It is most likely easier said than done, but try to take care of your physical body. As hard as it may seem, be sure to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. Try to avoid drowning your emotions with excessive alcohol or other bad habits - as that usually is only temporary relief and can exacerbate your pain. Taking care of your physical health in the months following a loss is essential - as risk of health issues to the surviving spouse goes up within the first three months of bereavement. If you are having difficulties following through with everyday activities, like getting out of bed, taking a shower, or fixing meals for yourself, contact your healthcare provider for help.
Keeping Up With Your Social Calendar
Navigating your social life as a single person can be complicated and foreign. If you and your spouse socialized with other couples regularly, you may not know how to “fit-in” now. You may feel awkward going to parties and other events solo. Let your friends know how you feel and explain that you may need to avoid “couple” dinner parties and get-togethers for a while and see each other one on one instead. On the other hand, being single can also provide a welcome opportunity to meet new people. Consider volunteering or taking a class you are interested in to motivate you to get out of the house and pursue something meaningful.
Grieving takes time and can look and feel different for everyone. However, it is possible to create a new and fulfilling life for yourself while still cherishing the memories of your relationship and your loved one.