Grief and Loss: Loss of a Partner
Grief and Loss: Loss of a Partner
The death of your spouse or partner can change your entire world. You lose the person you loved, the role they played in your family, and your life’s daily routine. You might miss their financial stability and emotional support, and perhaps your spouse or partner was your best friend. Whatever your partner represented to you, the pain of loss is real.
Physical and Emotional Effects of Grief
Though grief and loss is a universal experience, no two people will process grief the same. There’s no right way to grieve or a timetable to do so. Mourning a loss affects our physical bodies as well as our emotions. You might experience changes in sleeping and eating patterns or feel fatigued and low on energy. In addition, work and other tasks might become difficult as you struggle to concentrate.
When you grieve, you also feel a number of emotions, such as shock, fear of the unknown, anger that they died before you did, or guilt that you could have done more. Many people experience remorse for not being there when their spouse passed, or might feel unsafe coming home to an empty house.
Healthy Grieving Ideas
Grief and loss happen to everyone. Some choose positive coping methods, while others cause further distress by choosing negative ways to process their grief. These individuals might shut others out, make hasty decisions, or turn to alcohol or drugs. The following physical, emotional, and social tips offer healthy grieving ideas:
Practice self-care- During the grieving process, it is imperative that you don’t neglect your health. Making wise food choices, getting enough rest, staying hydrated, and exercising regularly is critical. Though you may not feel like it, you’re actually helping the healing process by practicing good self-care. You should never feel guilty for taking care of yourself physically, especially when you are grieving.
Know your limits- You might need to talk with your employer about a more flexible work schedule. Perhaps you can’t assume all the household responsibilities your spouse or partner handled. Be patient with yourself if you need to learn new tasks or skills, and this will take time. There’s nothing wrong with saying “no” and setting limits while you heal.
Keep a journal- Writing down your feelings about the loss can be helpful. Though remembering your spouse or partner might be painful, the memories can recall all the joy they brought. Recording your thoughts is also a way to chronicle your healing as the weeks and months pass.
Avoid big life decisions- Large changes like moving or a new job should be placed on hold until you feel better. Grief can cloud good thinking, so while risky decisions might seem rewarding in the moment, you might regret them later.
Plan for the holidays- Plan ahead for special events, holidays, or anniversaries to smooth the transition. Take time to honor your spouse on the special day or have someone available to talk to about your grief. Prepare beforehand, so you can use the day to be positive, get support, and care for yourself.
Honor your partner’s life- One way to embrace a new beginning is to honor your partner’s life. Although they are no longer with you, there are ways to recognize their values and beliefs. Consider holding a special memorial service, planting a tree, or volunteering for their favorite charitable cause. This effort creates a lasting legacy, helps you heal, and contributes to your community.
Engage your interests- If the upcoming weeks feel empty, make plans to do things you know you will enjoy. Meet up with friends, join a community group, or take a class to learn a new skill. Having plans to look forward to each week can increase your energy level and uplift your mood. However, be patient with yourself. It’s not necessary to rush into a brand new life, and finding a “new normal” will take time.
Respect others’ grieving- Your family members, friends, and children are also mourning the loss of your spouse or partner. Their grief might look different than yours, so it’s important for everyone to respect each other’s grief process. Recognize that relationships might change a little because of the loss.
Grieving the loss of a spouse or partner is a process and won’t happen overnight. Find friends and family members whom you can talk to about your feelings. Ask for assistance with household duties, or have someone help you go through personal items and your partner’s clothes. Consider joining a support group, talking with a therapist, or visiting your doctor for help and guidance. Taking care of yourself is the best way to honor yourself and your partner’s love for you, so reach out and get the support you need.
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