From “We” to “Me”: How to Overcome Loneliness After the Death of a Spouse
While grief is a difficult time in any person's life, it can be especially challenging following the death of a spouse or mate. There’s not only the loss of a romantic partner, but also a companion, friend and confidant.
Dealing with this loss and the lifestyle changes that come with it is often amplified by feelings of loneliness. If you or someone you love has recently lost a spouse, there are many resources available and steps you can take to overcome your grief and loneliness. Read on for some helpful and healthy ways to successfully cope with a most challenging time.
First and foremost, don’t put pressure on yourself to move on. Everyone’s grief is unique, and mourning is an essential stage of a healthy healing process. It’s also perfectly natural to experience a wide range of emotions when a spouse dies. You may feel anger, confusion, guilt and sadness. You might cry uncontrollably, you might feel numb, or you may feel that’s there’s a hole in your heart that will never again be filled. Give yourself permission to feel and accept all of these emotions. Your relationship with your husband or wife and the circumstances of the passing are unique to you, so avoid comparing your grief to others. Take it one day at a time and forego the timetables for moving on.
Lean on your loved ones. Your first instinct may be to withdraw from the world and immerse yourself in your sorrow and isolation. Allow yourself some time alone but don't stop the people in your life from being there for you. Their love and support will be extremely helpful in getting you through the initial grieving period. Your family and friends want to help, so take them up on their offers to cook, do your housework or give you a shoulder to cry on.
Get to know the difference between loneliness and solitude. It may take time, but you can learn to be comfortable when you’re by yourself. Find activities you can do alone that bring you comfort, satisfaction and peace of mind. Painting, music, traveling—the possibilities are endless and the list is limited only by your imagination. You can never replace your partner, but you can find comfort in solitude it if you learn to befriend it.
Get the support you need. Consider seeking ongoing help to work through some of the difficult emotions you’re experiencing if they are persistent or troubling. While some people prefer private grief counseling, others find comfort from attending a support group. In this environment, you’ll learn that you’re not the only who has experienced the loss of a spouse and you can make some powerful connections with others, too. If travel is an issue, online support groups make it possible to get help without leaving home.
Embrace your independence. You may be accustomed to making life decisions as a member of a partnership, and facing these choices alone can be intimidating at first. Whether you’re learning to cook for the first time or making financial decisions about your retirement, remember that it’s OK to make mistakes. You’ll learn and you’ll survive, so do not fear tackling new projects and making tough choices. As you become accustomed to your new decision-maker role, you may even find that you enjoy the autonomy it gives you.
Get reacquainted with your favorite pastimes or take on some new ones. If you’re like many people, you have a favorite activity or hobby that you haven’t participated in for a while. You may have been too busy, consumed with caring for your spouse, or simply got involved in other things and it fell by the wayside. Whatever this interest is, take time to revisit it and see if it still reconnects you with your bliss. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try something different. From exercise classes to learning new languages, a world of interesting pursuits awaits. You may have fun and also meet people who share your interests.
Give yourself permission to be happy. Socializing with old friends and making new ones is an opportunity to enjoy the world, connect with others, and lighten your burden for a bit. Of course you still miss your spouse, but that shouldn’t sentence you to lifetime alone.
There are no easy answers or quick fixes for coping with loneliness after you lose your wife, husband, or life partner—but do know that you are not alone in your pain. If you need additional support, have questions, or just want someone to talk to about the grief and loneliness you’re experiencing, please reach out to our caring team.
About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization serving three states, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. For more information, please call us at 215-549-4700 or visit our website.