Losing a spouse is losing a best friend, a life partner, a lover, and a confidant all at the same time.
Mourning the passing of the one person we love and trust the most can cause the greatest form of pain that one may ever have to endure. Experiencing profound feelings of both physical and emotional pain are very likely. Crying, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, inability to focus or make decisions are some of the common symptoms. Feeling numb or guilty for being the one who survived or feeling anger at the deceased for leaving is also quite natural. Depression, self-doubt, depression, anxiety, or even a reduced life expectancy can happen if one doesn’t cope well with the loss.
Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity; the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.
– Earl Grollman
If someone you know is mourning the loss of a spouse or loved one, it is essential to understand that their struggle through the pain may require an overwhelming amount of emotional support. At times, listening, sitting in silence, hugging, running errands, etc. may be what is needed by a loved one or caregiver. Just being present with the bereaved person can often be the care they need.
Grieving is very personal
When a spouse dies, the world of the bereaved person changes entirely. One may not be able to imagine life alone and the shock of their new reality may be devastating. Adopting a new lifestyle by oneself rather than in partnership can feel impossible. No matter what feelings start to surface during the grieving process, it is important to be reminded that there are no right or wrong ways to cope. There are no rules on how anyone will or should feel. Honouring all feelings and expressing them fully is a healthy sign of coping.
- Mourning a spouse or life companion can last weeks, months, or years.
- Expressing all feelings is necessary and natural.
- Letting the emotions pour out is healthy to find healing.
New waves of feelings can vary day-by-day or can remain static for long, drawn out periods of time. It is a process for finding meaning again. It is a time for learning how to develop a relationship with the deceased. And, in time, the moment will come when reintegrating the deceased into the bereaved person’s life will start to work itself out.
Putting life back together
Neglecting oneself or feeling guilty for trying to feel better can happen and relapse. Although, there isn’t a time limit on how long one will mourn, the time will come when the bereaved person will choose to be strong again. Acceptance that the deceased is gone and looking to care for oneself will begin to become a priority.
- Getting back to regular exercise.
- Eating well and balanced.
- Sleeping full nights.
When the time is right, making health and wellbeing a priority will bring a sense of purpose for the bereaved person. Guilt will fade away and having lunch with family or friends may feel good again. Listening to music may evoke feelings of love and hope. Reading books or magazines can help to clear the mind or ease the pain. Reaching out to a friend for comfort and conversation will shed new light into an otherwise darker day.
Living without them
Considerable research has shown spousal bereavement to be a major source of life stress. It is not uncommon for the stress of the decisions, forms and paperwork, questions and concerns to cause overwhelming feelings of despair and hopelessness for the surviving spouse. A positive support system will help the survivor through their healing process.
Reminders for the survivor:
- Sharing feelings and concerns with support groups of family and friends can bring a tremendous sense of healing.
- Resisting the need to make any major changes is advised. Taking time to heal is the most important.
- Finding comfort in one’s faith can help. Praying, or going to church or reading spiritual/religious texts can offer comfort.
- Talking about any new health issues with the family doctor is crucial for recovery. Caregivers, counselors, healthcare providers, psychologists or therapists may be the source of help that one needs to cope.
Help and support are available
Spousal bereavement is painful even for the strongest of people. Taking charge of life and facing the world alone can be upsetting. In time, the strength that grows within may become the lifeline needed to lead a healthy life.
If you or your loved one have experienced a sudden loss of a spouse or someone close, the help and companionship of a professional caregiver may be able to help through this difficult journey. Reach out to Home Care Assistance of Vancouver for information on our personalized companion care plans. Please do not hesitate to call (778) 200-1683 to speak to one of our Case Managers and let us know about your bereavement situation.