Surviving Loss of a Spouse

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The death of a spouse is rated as one of the most distressing events in life -- an event that one spouse in every couple must eventually face. Almost immediately, the surviving spouse is hit with a wall of worries, issues and concerns. A widow might worry about how she'll manage the household finances, who will do the repairs, whether she should sell his vast collection of tools.


A widower might be stunned to realize that he doesn't know the last name or number of the house cleaner, can't cook anything other than a frozen dinner and can't bear to go into their shared closet, because it still smells like her perfume. Here are some strategies for surviving spouses that may ease the pain a little bit and help move you through the long healing process.

Initially, try to avoid major decisions. Even minor decisions that can be put off are best left undone for a time after the loss of a spouse. Extreme grief can make people's thought processes foggy and even irrational. It's a good idea to postpone major decisions for a time, such as selling the extra car or moving closer to your family. Give yourself time some to adjust to having to make big decisions on your own and to get your problem-solving faculties back.

Consider giving away personal items. For the surviving spouse, clothes, jewelry and even knick-knacks can trigger feelings of grief. Some have found it helpful, even comforting, to give personal items away to family members first, then friends, and then to donate to rest to a local homeless shelter or charity. It's often easier to look at a treasured photograph of your loved one than to look at his or her hairbrush. Get busy with a passion. One of the best ways to ease symptoms of depression is to immerse yourself in an activity you love, such as gardening, hiking, playing bridge, or golfing.

Coping With a Sudden Death

It's not unusual for grieving spouses to admit that they have come to relish having the free time to "selfishly" devote to their long-neglected passions or pursuits. Allow yourself to grieve, cry and feel. Burying your feelings won't make them go way.

For most people, the pain of loss, especially that of a spouse, doesn't ever go away completely. And it may take a long time to get used to. Some people find it helpful to write letters to their lost partner. This can help you sort out your feelings, and still feel connected to the love and life you shared. Find a sympathetic friend or two. They should be encouraged to participate in some form of physical activity such as, swimming, aquarobic classes, chair yoga or other light exercise. Just because one half of an elderly couple dies does not mean that the other need follow close behind.

Becoming more aware of the challenges they face can help prepare us to help them. With care and attention , it is possible to reduce their loneliness and extend their lives. The Social Readjustment Rating Scale. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. Vol 26, issue 7, July , pages Journal of Psychosomatic Research. Who Needs a Friend? Health Psychology. I am I have several paternal Aunts who were widowed after over 50 years on marriage, as well as my own mother-in-law who was widowed after 60 years of marriage. My own Mother was widowed at age 52, after 31 years of marriage relatively young.

My paternal grandmother also was widowed after about 50 years of marriage.

5 Powerful Ways To Deal With Death, Grief & Loss

I have to say that the female relatives who are still alive live very high quality lives. All of them adjusted pretty quickly to widowhood, and my Grandmother seemed to live a happier life after the death of my Grandfather. My Mother-in-Law is still alive today at age Not long after my father-in-law passed, she got a boyfriend and had companionship, until he passed away a couple years ago.

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My own Mother moved on in life too, and seemed happier than ever as she aged. She said experiencing widowhood relatively early in life allowed her to craft a new life, with energy and health to do what she wanted. My own spouse is 11 years senior in age than myself, so, statistically, the probability is high that I will experience widowhood.

And no, I don't want to go when he does. I feel lucky that the older females in my life seemed to have few issues adjusting to the realities of widowhood - but then again, any female who is perceptive along the road of life will see that the probability is high that more women than men will experience widowhood, due to a variety of factors.

Helping Someone Grieving the Death of a Spouse: What NOT to do…

Most men who have been married a long time, or those who are serial monogamists who remarry soon after death or dissolution of a previous marriage are those who are socially dependent - their primary social connections are their wives, and the lion's share of their daily social connections are with their wives. Most women don't do this.

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Minimizing Grief for a Surviving Spouse with Dementia -

Some older men were from the generation that dictated "men's work" and "women's work. Some elderly women didn't drive, or mow the lawn, or repair stuff around the house, or take care of the car or take out the garbage. For many, many couples, one took care of the finances and the other had not a clue what they had, where it was, what bills needed to be paid, the state of their taxes, etc.

It would be a big mystery that needed to be unraveled by children, accountants, and attorneys after the money person died. So the pressure to remarry among those people was strong.

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  6. The problem is, there are many many more widows than there are widowers. Also, people are living to very advanced ages but are not healthy. There are not a lot of potential mates who are willing or able to take on the physical, social, psychological, legal, or financial burden of a debilitated person. So, just demographically, there are a sea of very elderly widows with no mates or potential mates. Also, extended families no longer live close to one another any more.

    Children scatter to the four corners for jobs and settle in other cities or states. I know a lot of widows who have sat in a spartan studio "elderly" apartment for 20 years or more. That fate likely awaits me my spouse of 49 years is 20 years older than I am , but I dread the day. I love my children dearly, but the last thing I want is to put a crimp in the lives they have chosen to live. My goal for them has always been to raise them as kind, upright, moral, hard-working people who have a good way of making a living, and who have the unfettered ability to choose their own friends, location, and lifestyle.

    I have succeeded so far, but I don't want to then go against it by becoming debilitated and dependent upon them, sucking up time energy and resources, compelling them to forgo their chosen lives. Neither do I want to become one of those lonely useless widows sitting in a cramped airless apartment day after day for decades, eating up resources for the sole purpose of keeping my useless body alive.

    Like Kazantzakis said in "Zorba the Greek," some folks turn their food into work and good humor, and some turn it into fat and manure. I do not aspire to be the latter.

    Helping Someone Grieving the Death of a Spouse: What to do…

    My wife and I were together for 48 years before she died. But once she passed on, I recovered and have had a happy healthy life without her. It wasn't easy, but the fact that I poisoned her tea and buried her in the backyard helped. My wife passed away in August only 2 months after her shocking and devastating cancer diagnosis we never saw it coming! She was only I am 64 but I can say that I have zero interest in seeking any "companion" and right now pretty much would be fine if somehow God could come back and finish his work and get me!

    I am lost- oh sure at some point things will be adjustingly different but my life is gone forever- the dreams and hopes we had of retirement and Golden age together after 37 years of tough work -pfffttt GONE! We had just retired when this tragedy struck. We worked hard and long and raised 4 children to adulthood- we had just become grandparents.

    It was time to relax and start ahhhhhh "the good life". But something had other thoughts and it was all swept away in short and fast style- like a blur it was- though each day seemed agonizingly long. No sorry I am not embracing finding a "new" me. Thats too much work and effort at this stage- I had already put maximum effort in all I did for so many years.

    I am not about to rev up my engines again. For what? Who do I need to impress now? I did all that.. As some veteran sports figure would say "the game" has now passed me by. No I will spend my days continuing to mourn what we had and what we lost for our future. Thats what happens when you had perfection- its not happening again and I do not intend to be some old fool seeking reentry back into this life.

    Let me be- leave me be- let me grieve. Dont try to change me now. Yes I have children and 2 grandchildren but I dont have my iife. I will so what I can- when I feel I can.