Grieving the Loss of Your Senior Spouse by Jackie Waters

06.02.2017

Grieving the Loss of Your Senior Spouse

 

Although you’ve always heard that grieving is a natural process, in the moment, it feels like the most awful and unnatural thing you’ve ever experienced. Losing a spouse is hard enough without the roller coaster of emotions that follows. However, it’s important that you understand your grief so you know what to expect, as well as find helpful ways to make life a little easier as you navigate this new road without your best friend by your side.

 

Understand the Stages of Grief

 

Thestages of grief are universal, and although it might feel like you are the exception, anyone who has experienced loss has gone through these stages. The first stage, denial and isolation, is exactly how it sounds. You may find yourself thinking, “This isn’t happening,” but this is a natural defense mechanism in an effort to shield yourself from the loss. As you begin to come to terms with the loss, you may feel anger. The anger could be toward your deceased loved one, friends, family, or even complete strangers. It is common for you to feel angry at your loved one for leaving you. With this anger comes bargaining and “if only” thoughts: If only we had seen a doctor sooner, if only I hadn’t left to go to the grocery store that day. This is yet another line of defense to shield yourself from reality.

 

One of the hardest stages of grief is depression. You may find that you have trouble sleeping and getting out of bed, lost of appetite, and have intermittent periods of extreme sadness and crying. Other symptoms are anxiety, confusion, fear, loneliness and physical symptoms such as headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, restlessness, weight fluctuations, and chest tightness. If yourdepression begins to affect your daily life, or you are not seeing any improvement over time, talk with your doctor to get treatment for your depression. You will then be able to enter the final stage: acceptance. Keep in mind that grief is different for everyone, and you may not go through the stages in this order. Use the stages as a guide to the grieving process.

 

Find Ways to Cope During the Process

 

In the beginning you may find it helpful to keep busy, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Grief can take a toll on your health, so be sure toexercise regularly. It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous and could be as simple as taking a short walk outside to get your fresh air and clear your mind. Oftentimes, eating is the last thing on your mind when you are coping with the loss of a spouse, buteating healthy will keep you strong and able to tackle each day head on.

 

Taking care of yourself is the most important thing, but you will find that you now have tasks to take on solo such as paying bills, going to the grocery store, and housework. If this was something your spouse typically took care of, or the two of you did together, consider asking family or friends to help out by making weekly errand trips with you. Considerhiring a housekeeper to help you stay on top of house upkeep as well as keep things neat and orderly while you focus on grieving. Cleaning is never a fun chore, and at this moment, it will be the very last thing on your mind. However,clutter can create unwanted stress.

 

One of the stages of grief is social isolation, but socialization is a basic human need. You may find it helpful to talk with family and friends about your spouse and share happy memories. Combine socialization with healthy grieving by joining asupport group to give yourself an outlet to deal with you emotions, as well as learn coping skills. It will be helpful to talk with others who understand first-hand what you are going through, and can offer their unique perspective as well as helpful tips.

 

Coping with the loss of a spouse is hard. Remember that everything you are feeling is normal, and there are helpful ways to make the process a little bit easier. You will always have the memories of your loved ones, keeping them a constant presence in your life.

 

Related Topics: Advice



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