Grieving the death of a spouse is a painful process. Many experience grief as riding a roller-coaster. The initial impact of the loss is devastating. It kind of feels like that initial, terrifying drop in the roller-coaster. Then you have some good days when you feel like the worst is over, only to drop down again. There will be good days and bad days. During the first year after losing a spouse, the “firsts” are especially painful. Examples are birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, vacations etc. These are times when the pain of not having your spouse can feel especially strong.
Grief is a journey towards healing and regaining a sense of stability again. Here are some approaches that a person who has lost a spouse can adopt to assist with the healing:
- Focus on taking care of yourself and any dependents that you have. If people or commitments stress and exhaust you and are not absolute necessities, take a break from them for a while.
- Seek out trusted people who support and nurture you. Allow those people to help you with some of the difficult tasks of the transition such as income tax preparation, filling out necessary paper-work, packing up and moving belongings if you need that done. Also talk to people you trust about how you are feeling.
- Be attentive to your physical needs. Grieving is exhausting work. When you suffer a loss you may feel foggy, have difficulty remembering things and feel that you can’t cope with a lot. That is due to grief’s physical impact on the brain. The impact is temporary, but may last many months. Be patient and gentle with yourself while you heal.
Signs that grief has become Complicated Mourning and that someone needs professional help are:
- hyper-sensitivity to loss experiences
- restlessness, agitation and over-sensitivity
- intrusive anxiety about death regarding yourself or others
- rigid, ritualistic and compulsive behaviour
- flattened feelings – no emotional expression
- fear of intimacy or impulsive relationships or a lack of basic self-care. Complicated Mourning
If you are experiencing any of these, counselling could help you to move through your grief in a healthier way. A good book to help you through this process is I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping, and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One by Noel Brook. Recommended websites to visit include www.griefnet.org and www.compassionatefriends.org. In the Region of Waterloo, there is a bereavement support group run by Bereaved Families of Ontario. For more information, contact: Kim at(519)745-9495. If you are struggling with grief issues and would like to explore individual counselling to help you through this process, you can call us at Mosaic at (519)743-6333.