The death of a spouse is one of the most stressful events in life. Nothing can prepare you for the day when you are no longer a couple, no longer have your other half available for the small, every day life events you’ve grown use to over the years.
The surviving spouse suddenly has to face everything alone. No one to ask questions to, make decisions with, or simply be with. And rightfully so, there is little anyone can do to ease your pain. It’s a process you must take alone. It’s one you take by moving forward day by day.
Initially, stay away from making big decisions
Extreme grief can often make your decision making process muddled and confused, and even allow you to make somewhat irrational decisions. Give yourself time to adjust to you new lifestyle before diving in and making changes you may regret down the road.
Move personal items
Everything you do reminds you of your significant other. Yet looking at personal items day in and day out can make the process even worse. A picture may hold memories; a bottle of cologne on a dresser may be overwhelming. Its okay to box up clothes, jewelry, personal items and knickknacks to avoid triggers around every corner. If you’re ready, give some of them away. Be sure to ask other family members if they would like them as remembrances.
Give yourself break days
Trying to hide your feelings won’t make them go away. You don’t have to be brave for the rest of the family. When you have a bad day, give yourself a break and allow your feelings to happen. Spend a day wallowing. Allow yourself the time to move past those feelings at your own pace.
Find your passion
If you’ve been in a caregiving role for any length of time, chances are some of your most favorite things have fallen to the wayside. Do you like to golf? Enjoy book club? Love to paint? Now is the time to get active in those passions. Staying active is one of the best ways to alliviate depression. And it allows you to get out and meet other people, to pull yourself in an activity you can enjoy once again.
Find a sympathetic friend
Some of your oldest friends may have trouble talking about your loss. We all handle it in different ways. Yet it’s important for you to find someone you can share your feelings with, someone who will lend a sympathetic ear when you need it most. Look for someone who understands when you need to talk about your spouse and won’t change the subject. It may require looking outside of your immediate group. Grief groups are good places to meet others going through similar circumstances.
Talk with your doctor
Not everyone needs antidepressants or sleeping pills. Yet in some cases, they can help you get through intense grieving. Make an appointment with your doctor. Keep tabs on your emotional and physical symptoms. In some cases even a short term treatment can help you through the most difficult part of the process.
Move forward every day
You will be happy again. You will enjoy day to day activities in time. While you will never stop missing your spouse, and will always hold a place in your heart for your loved one, there will be a day when you can lead a happy life once again.