Written by Teresa
Losing your spouse is painful and overwhelming. Your world will never be the same, and in some respects you will be rebuilding your life. It’s important to find ways to tend your wellness during this difficult journey.
The loss of your spouse is one of the most difficult and stressful crises you will ever endure. Chances are you are already in a phase of life when you are experiencing a number of changes. Your children have grown up and moved on; you’re a retiree; your social life is changing; and your economic status is in flux. You may even be experiencing your own health concerns. When all is said and done, it can feel as if your entire life is in upheaval.
According to the National Institute on Aging, your pain may be both physical and emotional, and you may experience trouble sleeping, eating and focusing. While it may feel your grief will be endless, it’s important to know there will be healing. It will take time, and grief is never the same for any two people so there is no certain timeline or process you will follow. But things will get better.
The experts at Psychology Today explain the beginning of this process can be extremely trying. Your day-to-day life is inherently altered, and you need to find ways to rebuild your pattern of living. This may be the first time as an adult you lived alone, and you may struggle with loneliness. It’s possible you need to learn new tasks your spouse always tended, such as car repairs or bookkeeping.
It’s important not to withdraw. Isolation will increase your sense of being alone. Instead, allow family and friends to care for you. Some professionals suggest connecting with those who are trained in support and service, such as church leaders, physicians and mental health professionals. Many people find grief support groups helpful and an integral part of healing. Engage through community services or through internet resources. Try not to lean too heavily on your children during this journey as they need to continue their lives while you rebuild yours. They will appreciate and respect your efforts.
The loss of a spouse is an exhausting journey, and taking care of yourself is imperative. It’s not an indulgence to tend your needs. Set aside opportunities for quiet time and relaxation. Some researchers believe extra naps may help you pull through this difficult time, so if you feel a need for additional rest remember you need it, and don’t feel guilty. Also allow yourself some simple pleasures you enjoy, such as a hot bath and a good book. Ensure you’re getting proper nutrition to maintain your health. Make sure you pay your bills and if you aren’t confident in managing your finances, reach out for help. The pain you experience will come and go in waves; allow yourself time to cope at your own pace. You can even participate in an online wellness course to help navigate this struggle.
Don’t try to manage your grief with drugs or alcohol. Instead, make healthy choices to help you feel better. For instance, it’s important to exercise because it is a natural mood enhancer. The physical activity releases feel-good chemicals in your brain, helping reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. If you feel your sadness is beyond what you can manage, and you experience ongoing trouble accomplishing daily activities, discuss your situation with your physician.
This is a painful time, but don’t become isolated. Tend to your wellness and reach out if you need assistance. You will be able to reconstruct your life, and eventually, you will feel better.
About the Author: Teresa is the co-creator of MentalHealthForSeniors.com, which is dedicated to providing seniors with information on physical and mental fitness so that they can be active and happy in their golden years.