When you meet the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with, you expect to grow old together. Unfortunately, living into your 90s with your partner is not a guarantee. Many people will outlive their spouse, and that loss presents a very unique and difficult form of grief. While the grieving process is painful, it doesn't feel that way forever. Here are a few answers to commonly asked questions to help you make it through this process as easy as possible.
What Kind of Grief Occurs?
Everyone grieves differently. There is no one way to grieve because everyone, and everyone's relationship with their spouse, is different. Some emotions that you can expect to feel, as with any loss, are sadness, anger, confusion, hopelessness, guilt and the list goes on. However, a period of denial can also exist where you feel none of these things in the beginning.
How Do I Cope?
In the same way that everyone grieves differently, everyone copes differently too. It's hard to understand what to do with your life when someone who has been there daily is suddenly gone — but it's not impossible. Coping with death doesn't mean pretending it never happened; it means learning how to go on with your own life in the midst of loss. It's important to find a coping mechanism that works for you.
Here are a few options that can help you grieve:
- Try a support group or counseling.
- Start writing or drawing in a journal.
- Find a daily routine and stick with it.
- Talk to others who knew the deceased.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Don't stop living your life. Continue with your regular hobbies, find new activities, and spend time with family and friends.
- Check in with your grief often.
These are just a few ways that other widows and widowers have found peace with their spouse's death. They might not all work for you, but chances are that one will.
When Can I Think About Dating Again?
Depending on how long it has been since your spouse passed away, you might be wondering when the right time is to start dating again. There is no time stamp on when you can start dating again. You have every right to do what makes you happy. If that's getting back into the dating world and building a meaningful connection with someone else, then that's a wonderful comfort and support through life.
But it's important to make sure that you're ready. Don't let friends or family members dictate when you are or are not ready to think about dating again — you'll know when the time is right. Be open and honest with yourself about what you need and why. And if you end up meeting a wonderful person, make sure you're doing it out of love and not because you're lonely.
How Can I Honor My Spouse's Life?
There are many ways to honor a deceased spouse. Some non-tangible ways include remembering their life and not their death, thinking about the good times and not the bad, and raising your kids well. However, if you'd like to do something more concrete, you can make a charitable donation in their name, commission a memorial bench, or create a digital memorial in their honor.
Losing a spouse is hard. There's no getting around that. However, there are ways to cope and move on with your life while still loving your deceased partner. Above all else, don't let anyone tell you how to grieve or accuse you of grieving incorrectly. The process looks different for everyone. Listen to your heart, trust your gut, and do what you can to keep going on.