The death of a spouse is often the explosion of dreams, future plans, and one’s identity. Losing a companion, friend, provider, partner, or the many roles they played in your life, can be deeply disruptive and painful. Sometimes it is hard to navigate history, shared secrets, hopes, hardships, and all the other feelings that can accompany the loss of a spouse. Relationships are complicated and this is one of the most intimate types of relationship. As a result, a flood of feelings can seem consuming. Your grief may be about the person who died, but also include concerns about your children, finances, friends, your household, and much more. All of these other variables will influence your grief and the type of support you need. Because a spousal loss often includes all of these other variables, it is so important that you ask for help. When and where you can, let other people lighten the load.
Here are some things to consider:
Identify a point person – allow this person to help you field calls, identify and delegate a to-do list to friendly helpers, ensure your hygiene and help you manage a household or children. A trusted friend or family member can help you navigate this incredible impact on your routine and daily life. They can also be your voice when you struggle to find yours on a hard day.
Get support – not only do you not have to go at it alone, a good friend can create the space you’ll likely need to process your grief, share stories, express feelings, and help you find your footing again. If you can lean into several friends that is ideal, but unfortunately, many people are uncomfortable with grief. Your most helpful listeners and best support might be people you least expect so be open.
Put on your seatbelt – unfortunately, the death of a spouse includes so much paperwork. It tends to be cumbersome, time consuming, and painful. Brace yourself for this. Also, ask your point person to help, even if it is just to coordinate the correct attorneys, financial planners, etc.
Exercise – grief is not just an emotion. It comes with fatigue and other ailments. Exercise is a healthy coping strategy if you’re able to do so.
Minimize big decisions – grief is an intense experience. To the best of your ability, do not make critical decisions that you could regret later or that drastically uproots your life. Stability can be very helpful until you find your new footing. Of course, the death of a spouse may force you to sell a home or make decisions you prefer not to make. Lean on a compassionate friend to help guide and support you through these decisions.