Losing a spouse is one of the most overwhelming and painful experiences a person can go through. Grieving the death of any loved one can be difficult, but losing a mate is a little different. Spouses expect companionship through daily life.
Grief can feel awful and exhausting, but it is a completely normal and necessary part of losing a loving human relationship. Eventually, after going through each stage of grieving, and many days and hours of pushing through, things do get easier to cope with. If you have a loved one whose spouse has passed away, you can support them as they mourn their loss.
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Allow Time for Grief
As a person goes through the grieving process, times of deep sadness are fairly common in the beginning. These times generally become shorter with longer stretches of emotional stability in between. While this can take some time, most people eventually regain good functioning and can enjoy daily life again. Watch for symptoms including nightmares, constant longing for their spouse months after their death, intrusive distressing thoughts, and a struggle to accept the reality of death.
Good Self Care While Grieving
Even if your loved one doesn’t feel much like it, they still need to take care of their basic needs. Often these small routines can be comforting. They remain the same as ever and they don’t require much thought. After putting on fresh clothes and making their hair look nice, it’s common to feel a little emotional boost. It helps to show your loved one patience and understanding during this time. They will see that it’s okay to be kind to themselves.
Watch for problems like poor hygiene, low or no appetite, refusal of help from others (despite clearly needing it), and allowing their living areas to become completely disheveled.
Moving Forward With Life Again
There comes a time when a grieving person realizes they are feeling somewhat better. Immediately after the death of their spouse, this may seem impossible. But as they gradually step back into normal activities of daily living and social participation, they begin to remember the pleasure of doing something enjoyable. They are grateful for the companionship they have with friends and family. These positive feelings can almost seem novel after so much pain.
Social activities and hobbies can bring back the fun in everyday living. Feeling happy about life doesn’t dishonor the spouse that has died. It allows the individual to remind themselves that their own life continues and that their presence brings value to the people around them. Watch for behaviours such as extreme social withdrawal, isolation, lack of trust in others, and trouble carrying out normal routines. These behaviours are signs of poor coping.
Getting Through Grief with Help
As your loved one reorganizes their life, they may seem to slip backwards into periods of grief. This is a natural part of the process and often happens around anniversaries or around strong reminders of their spouse.
Give them your companionship, allow them to talk and share their feelings, or do something simple to help them for a while. As long as they are able to function and communicating with you, their occasional episodes of sadness are not necessarily a bad thing. Feelings of devastation don’t last forever. Emotional pain doesn’t need to be permanent. Under normal circumstances, these feelings will come and go for a while.
Watch for signs of complicated grief
This is a condition of extended and unresolved grief symptoms. It can cause physical, emotional, and social problems if not treated. If you are giving direct senior care to someone you love, you’ll have the best chance to observe their symptoms and behaviours. Contact a doctor or a mental health professional that specializes in bereavement counseling to get help right away if you have any concerns that they are not coping well with their loss after a while.
If your loved one is grieving a loss, isolation, and loneliness can place them at risk for self-neglect or clinical depression. At this difficult time, we can provide companionship, social, and physical support. We can be there when you can’t. Give us a call at
Tell us, what you have done to help a loved one who has lost their spouse. Did they gradually get back into their life after their loss, or did they struggle with complicated grief? Leave a comment below.