The death of a spouse is one of the most painful experiences a person can go through. Perhaps you feel totally numb or go into shock, as if the world has stopped spinning. The loss of a loved one changes your life, especially if that person was your best friend. You are groundless, unwilling to move forward, and not comfortable making the smallest decision. As hard as it is to believe, know that this emotional wound heals over time. Of course the scars remain, but it is possible to go on with life. Many people suffer irreparable losses and, after a while, they manage to find a way to live fully and meaningfully. You too can be one of them.
Part 1 of 2: Saying Goodbye
Step 1. Understand that you may go through phases
Not everyone goes through all of these phases and they are not always in the same order, but you may experience a mixture of denial, anger, resentment, longing, suffering, sadness and, at some point, acceptance. In addition to the order of phases changing in each case, some of them may be repeated throughout the grieving process.
Allow yourself to live through this grief and go through these phases. Don't try to repress or hide emotions
Step 2. Fulfill the request your spouse made explicitly before he died
If death was sudden and there was no final request, think of ways to pay homage to your loved one's memory. In this way, you can find peace of mind and eliminate mental obstacles in your new life. Perhaps you prefer to do tributes on a date and repeat them every year, or dedicate a unique moment to it and do your best to move forward. Some forms of tribute are:
- Light a candle.
- Bring flowers to the grave and talk to the person so they know they are always in your thoughts and in your heart.
- Do an activity that the couple loved, remembering all the good times that the two had.
Step 3. Know that it will take time for things to get back to normal
The pain doesn't disappear overnight, as if by magic. Be patient with yourself during the grieving process. Grief is a journey that lasts as long as it has to, until the person is able to conform to the idea of death and the departure of a loved one, in addition to making peace with oneself and the negative side of the relationship.
Step 4. Recognize the difference between grief and depression
Both may be very similar, but they have their differences. It is important to know the distinctions to seek therapy if your grief turns into depression.
- Grief can bring sadness, hopelessness, fatigue or tiredness, easy crying, loss of appetite, sleep problems, difficulty concentrating, sad and happy memories, and mild feelings of guilt.
- In depression, symptoms can be the same as in grief, but they also include: feelings of worthlessness or emptiness, helplessness, extreme guilt, suicidal thoughts, loss of interest in pleasurable activities, extreme fatigue, and intense weight loss.
- Pay attention to how you feel when good memories with your spouse surface. Are these memories a source of comfort and joy? Or are they not even able to alleviate emptiness and the sense of loss? In the latter case, this could be a sign of depression.
Step 5. Don't listen to anyone who says there is something wrong with your grief
What matters is how you feel. The loss of your partner is yours alone, and there is no right or wrong amount of time to grieve and move on.
- If someone says that there is a problem in the way you are experiencing grief, thank them for their concern and say that each person reacts in a different way.
- Perhaps someone tells you that you are recovering "too fast" or "too slow" and seem unable to get over it. If that happens, remember that the person's intention must be good, because they want to see you well, but it's up to you to decide when you're ready to move on.
Step 6. Realize that there are choices
There is a time when you have to cry all you have to cry and go through all the suffering until you get better. In the future, you will be ready to actively understand the grieving process, healing your wounds and preparing for a new life. No one chooses to lose a loved one, but it is possible to choose how to react to the situation and how to move forward.
Your partner's death has brought a drastic change to your life. It's best not to make another big change during the acceptance process
Step 7. Don't be afraid to forget about it
You loved the person so much and were with them until the end. Of course you won't forget it. Take comfort in the fact that the memories will stay in your head whenever you want to think about them. Get busy with the routine, as this is a way to heal the pain and end the grief.
Don't think that when you get busy, you will forget or disrespect your spouse. Your life needs attention and commitment. It's normal to get troubled with the routine and this is not a sign that you're letting your partner go
Part 2 of 2: Taking care of yourself
Step 1. Adopt a pet
Studies show that pets bring well-being, reduce loneliness and make the owner worry less about his own thoughts. If you don't have a lot of energy to devote to your pet, adopt a cat. Cats are great companions, they are clean, they don't need walks and they have a lot of love to give. A kitten can occupy your mind with care, in addition to greeting you when you get home or lying in your lap when you watch TV. If you don't like cats, adopt a dog or other pet that makes you happy, provides well-being and a sense of usefulness.
Understand that the pet will not replace your companion and that is not the intention, but it can bring many smiles and you can listen to it when you want to talk to fill a lonely day
Step 2. do volunteer work when you feel ready and willing.
Donate your time to a cause you truly believe in. Helping others can have a wonderful effect. There are even studies that prove that helping others makes us happier.
Take it easy: start by going once a week for an hour to see how you feel, and if all goes well, increase your time to the cause little by little
Step 3. Anticipate and block triggers
When times like your spouse's birthday or other couple's dates approach, the sadness can come roaring back. Also, certain places, smells or sounds associated with it can trigger melancholy feelings. While this is normal, there are some things you can do to ease emotional pain.
- For example, if the couple used to shop at a specific market, it's a good idea to switch markets so you don't let sadness get the better of you.
- Maybe you feel really bad walking past your partner's favorite ice cream parlor. In that case, one suggestion is to change the route to your destination. If that is not possible, there is the option of setting aside a time of the day to experience the sadness that may arise. Leave the house a little earlier than usual so you can let the pain come and go in the comfort of your car.
- You may only discover triggers by experiencing them. When you realize something makes the pain of loss relive, remember this to create a plan and avoid future encounters with triggers.
Step 4. Take care of your physical health
Grief can be very damaging to the body. To combat its effects and ward off depression, be sure to always exercise, eat healthy, drink plenty of water, take your medicine and sleep well to feel rested and alert the next day.
- Try doing 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day.
- Have a balanced diet with lean meats, nuts, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Avoid overdoing it with fat and sugar.
- Although the recommended amount of water varies depending on a number of factors, try to drink at least eight glasses a day, but don't be discouraged if you don't make it all. This is just a general recommendation.
- Try to sleep for seven to eight hours a night. Adjust the amount to feel rested in the morning.
Step 5. Don't resort to alcohol and other drugs to forget
Even if you're tempted, know that drinking or using drugs to drown your hurts and numb the pain only makes you more anxious and depressed, as chemical substances (at least in the case of alcohol, but certainly in many others drugs too) cause symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Be more aware of alcohol abuse if you are a man, as there is evidence that men are more likely to drink to deal with the pain of loss than women
Step 6. Join the community
One of the ways to overcome loss is to reach out to other people. You can do this by becoming an active member of your community. Studies show that helping others can reduce stress and increase social bonding.
To get involved, see if there are events happening in the neighborhood, chat with neighbors or look online
Step 7. Get in therapy
Seek out a bereavement psychologist if possible. In some cases, an experienced professional can help you get through this phase and process all the emotions you are feeling.
Look for a psychologist on your health care website or on the internet
Step 8. Think about the idea of joining a support group
Perhaps you will find comfort in sharing your experience of loss with others who have gone through it. These individuals can provide an inside view that only those who have been through this have.
Look for support groups on the internet, in the newspaper or ask your psychologist for a recommendation
Step 9. Do what you always dreamed of
After enough time has passed for you to be able to move on, how about a significant change to get you feeling excited about life again? There is no better time for this. Be what you always dreamed of being: become an artist, a pilot, a diver, fly a balloon, etc.
Above all, strive to be happy and whole again. Your dreams can come true, helping to fill the void. You will meet new people and realize that life can be satisfying and exciting even if you are alone
- You are not alone.
- Think fondly of the idea of going to therapy or joining a support group.
- If you're thinking about suicide, know that there are better alternatives. Talk to someone about the pain you're feeling, because it's what makes you believe that suicide is the only way to stop feeling that way. Don't be ashamed to open up and talk about your problems.
- Maybe your married friends drift away as you are no longer part of a couple. It's sad, but sometimes it happens. Be open to new friendships.
- Think about the needs of your family, grandchildren, and children to focus on what's really worth it and formulate a new life plan.
- Swap the photos and mementos so you don't have to stumble across those memories every time you enter the house. Buy new objects that bring joy to your home, gradually transforming it into your home.
- Make a board with positive phrases and put it in a visible place.
- Your friends and family might avoid mentioning your spouse because they don't want you to be sad. Explain to them that pretending the person never existed only makes you feel sadder and more angry.
- suicide not it's a way out. If you consider this idea, get help right away. Call CVV – Life Appreciation Center on 188, talk to a friend or see a psychologist as soon as possible. Think about your loved ones and don't think life is lost!