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Coping With the Death of a Spouse

When you lose your significant other to illness or an accident, it can feel like the rug has been pulled out from under your feet. Anyone who has experienced this event will no doubt understand why the loss of a partner is listed as the single most stressful life event on the Holmes Rahe Scale. Losing a spouse can involve significant changes to our personal, social, and financial life. Coping can be tough, but with a little self-compassion and support from loved ones, you can survive this loss.

Being Aware of the Stages of Grief

Elisabeth Kubler Ross and David Kessler identified five stages of grief, which we do not necessarily experience in a specific order, and which we can flit to and from as we aim to come to terms with death. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. If you are starting to feel more motivated to socialize or take part in work activities, then you suddenly feel very depressed or angry again, this is only to be expected. Be compassionate and patient with yourself, using a mindfulness approach such as meditation to recognize and accept even the most difficult feelings without judging them. Coping with a partner’s death is often compared to swimming in the ocean; sometimes, the waves of emotion are high and seemingly eternal; other times they are easier and quicker to swim over. Be prepared for both types of day.

Making Appropriate Financial Plans

If you have children or a business you co-owned with your spouse, or you jointly shared the expenses or running a house, schools, and the like, then you can definitely benefit from seeing a financial planner regarding possible changes. If you need to free up cash until you work out an additional source of income, downsizing a home, changing your mortgage terms, or consolidating loans may be of benefit. You will need to work out the effect of new interest rates and terms in the long-term, and a financial adviser can help spot and stamp out any potential loopholes in your financial strategy.

Strengthening Vital Connections

Did you know that wild birds face grief by coming closer together? Or that baboons in mourning seek the comfort of friends? Finding comfort in others is universal and it brings many benefits – including having people to listen to us, share memories with, and inspire us to head into the world and rebuild our lives. In a 2018 study by scientists at Oregon State University, enlisting the help of others in tough emotional times is key if we are to grow and change as a result of our loss. “Those who received unsolicited emotional support,” they said, “developed wisdom around compassion and humility.”

Considering Deepening Your Spirituality

Of the many studies carried out on the role of spirituality in bereavement, around 94% have found positive connections for men and women who turn to religion or spirituality to get over a painful life event. In other studies, spirituality and religion have been found to promote deeper spiritual growth among parents grieving the loss of a child. Spirituality is a wide concept and does not necessarily involve adhering to a specific religion. Some find it in nature, others in holistic practices like meditation. Still others encounter it in sporting communities – anywhere and everywhere they can feel more connected to something larger than themselves.

Coping with grief is a long process that involves making your way through several stages. If you find that your grief is severe or lasts for longer than you thought, seeing a qualified therapist may help. Complicated grief is linked to physical and mental illness, so don’t try to manage alone if you need help.