A spouse’s death is a painful or tragic experience. During these difficult times, the feelings of emotional loss can be overwhelming. Each of us reacts differently to it, but you have to know that you are not alone in this.
Bereavement is a process, and there are stages of grieving, but it looks different to everyone. Reading through this article will give you a glimpse of what life can be after grief. Becoming a widow can be another door opening for something that you could attain.
Do you want to become a happier widow? Or keep drowning in sadness? Do you really think that your late partner likes to see you in misery? Time can heal the pain brought by grief, but there must also be a personal responsibility to overcome grief.
The Stages of Widowhood: When A Wife or Husband Died
Grieving over a death of a spouse or a longtime partner can be devastating, especially when you have your whole life planned to revolve around them. Dealing with this terrible pain sucks! You are heartbroken and clueless about going on with life, while everybody else is expecting you to stay strong.
Grief is the first stage of widowhood. It is when you become a new widower. You may still be in awe, shock, and still processing what just happened. If your spouse used to do the budgeting inside the household, you might be worried about facing future financial issues. If your spouse used to be someone who took the trash out, doing such a task may make you grieve. It’s the simple mundane actions that make you remember a loved one.
The second stage of widowhood is growth. This is the stage when your outlook in life becomes more apparent. You are now ready to move forward and get on with your life. You have dealt with those immediate needs that you encountered after the loss. Now you are ready to plan and focus on reviewing retirement plans and investments.
And finally, the last stage is grace. This is also referred to as the transformation stage. It is time to get up and embrace a new chapter of life. A time to focus on more advanced arrangements and programs. Such as getting a prenuptial agreement when you plan to re-marry. Or creating charitable trust funds to preserve assets and lessen taxes.
The Undesirable Impacts of Widowhood
According to a journal released by APA, the first year of widowhood is the most crucial stage. Researchers found a substantial drop in women’s mental health during the first twelve months of grief. The study showed an increased rate of depression and poor social functioning.
The effects of being a new widow on physical activity are also associated with negative health outcomes.
Research conducted by Stahl and Schulz shows that widowhood increased mortality rates and suicidal attempts of surviving spouses. Losing a husband or a wife exacerbates the pre-existing mental problem and triggers physical symptoms. These include physical ailments and sleep disturbances.
Widows experience a higher risk of mortality compared to married women. The increase in mortality following a spouse’s death is called the “widowhood effect.”
The widowhood effect is evident among women and men of all ages. But a widow’s resilience to this phenomenon depends on external factors, such as access to emotional support groups and socio-economic status.
Some widows use alcohol and substance at the same time as self-medication for pain. A widow suffering from grief is vulnerable to addiction. Study shows that a widow with depressive disorders has a higher rate of alcohol dependence.
Getting On With a New Life After a Spouse’s Death
We’ll never know when a loved one will be taken away from us. Some become widows at a young age, while some become a widow after retirement. Moving forward is not easy, but here are some ways to ease the pain to keep moving.
Express Your Emotions
Young widows who were left with children to look after may find it more challenging to face the stages of grieving. Having children to take care of after the sudden death of a spouse can be a different kind of emotional challenge. During this time, moving forward could be the hardest thing to do.
Taking care of the kids while working and dealing with pain is not easy. The living spouse left with this kind of struggle will find it difficult to find hope nor the energy to move on. They have to be emotionally steady to support their children as they mourn for the loss.
Repressing emotions and having no time to grieve is unhealthy. Emotional expression is vital in the grieving process. So cry and allow yourself to be vulnerable to people who care.
Jumpstart Your Own Life
Finding a new focus to face the future can be a special joy. After a spouse’s death, a supportive family and a sense of achievement can become your psychic income.
Jumpstart your life by creating your legacy. Start a nonprofit group and volunteering activities that can be gratifying. Try working with a local community foundation that might benefit your children in the future.
Engaging with this kind of event and fulfilling activities can kick off a rich start in your widowed life. Allow yourself to have a break from the grief. You need to overcome it, but don’t let your life revolve around it.
Start building connections and joining support groups. Widows who are at their retirement stage are already susceptible to health complications due to loneliness. The loss of a spouse can drive them to depression.
Having a support system through your family, friends, and support groups will help you survive this sad time. You can build new friendships by sharing your experience. Attend a book club or community activities with new faces. Talk to someone from whom you can draw your strength from.
Spending time with your kids or meeting someone by taking up a new hobby will help you move on. Being part of something can help you recover and accept the loss of a spouse. You don’t have to go through the grief process alone. Find someone who can help you.
Have an Attitude That Allows Rebirth
If you are experiencing complicated grief where normal grieving doesn’t happen, be patient. Give yourself time. The inability to accept a husband’s death may take months or longer. But rest assured, healing will come.
It will take time, so be patient with yourself. Soon you will feel the sadness, anger, and fatigue fading away. You will start to regain interest in others and the outside world. You will realize the happiness of others without getting bitter about it. This will be your sign of renewal.
All of this will be in the past. Never say “Never.” Our brain can gather evidence to make us believe what we want to believe. Consider having a life after the loss, and your brain will gather data to prove that you are right. Our thoughts dictate what we want to believe. So try having positive outlooks and help yourself find a new life.
Avoid Alcoholic Drinks
Alcohol and drugs will help you feel better temporarily. But these substances can have a harmful effect both on your physical and mental health. Some widowers resort to alcohol and drugs to help the grieving process the loss and escape from pain. But these substances can also slow down the recovery and causes new health problems. We all know that these are not healthy coping mechanisms.
Go At Your Own Pace of Letting Go
Allow yourself to grieve because your emotions are important. The healing process may be slow, but you’re getting there. The fact that you are reading this article shows that you are slowly making progress in moving on with your new life. You are free to express your emotions in your way.
Rediscover Your Strength
Find the time to take care of yourself. Find ways to stay active and busy. Fill your time with activities that you enjoy. Pursue a hobby, get out of the house and bring your kids out for a short vacation. Compassion for others and yourself is important for healing.
Talk to a Mental Health Professional
Discussing your inner thoughts and feeling with a professional can help you find yourself. They can aid you in understanding your emotions. Integrate the death with your life and keep moving forward.
Can a Widower or Widow Ever Move On?
Of course, they do! At their own pace, they can lead a rewarding and fulfilling life after going through the pain. With proper conventional wisdom and support, a widow can doubtlessly survive the grieving process.
It is always possible to move forward and enjoy a meaningful and transformed life. You would not want your late wife or late husband to see you in misery, right? They would want you to move on with life and be happy.
Embrace Life After Widowhood
Going through bereavement and grief is a personal battle. Acknowledging a wide range of support will help you realize that you are not alone. Go out there and allow yourself to be part of a group and fill your mind with positive thoughts. Seek medical attention if you think you need it. Heal at your own pace. The loss of a loved one can be painful, but life does not end here.
If you think you need emotional help during these dark times, give us a call. Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC) is here to help you. You can schedule an appointment with us online at Kentucky Counseling Center (KCC).