20 Ways To Cope With The Loss Of A Spouse

20 Ways To Cope With The Loss Of A Spouse

It’s one of the hardest losses. Regardless of age or circumstance, life is drastically different after such a weighted absence, and no two journeys to healing are the same. Even though it may feel like you’re completely alone, you’re not, and there are places you can turn to for support. Here are 20 healthy tips to help guide you on your path.

1. Let Yourself Grieve

Sometimes it’s easier to pretend we’re okay. Staying strong in front of friends or family can seem like a good coping mechanism, but it’s much healthier to feel your feelings. Make space to work through your emotions and know that it’s okay to feel confused, angry, or lost.

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2. Understand the Stages of Grief

There are five stages to grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Understanding what these look like can help you identify emotions or triggers down the road, which assists in working through them.

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3. Build a Support Network

Don’t turn away from your loved ones. It’s understandable to lean on your friends or family right now, and relying on the right people is a major stepping stone toward healing.

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4. Consider a Professional

A therapist or counselor is often beneficial in times like this. Enlisting professional help can not only give you a safe space to work through your grief, but a therapist provides healthy coping strategies tailored to your journey.

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5. Take Care of Yourself

The loss of a partner is overwhelming and personal care can seem like the last thing on your mind. But try to remember the importance of physical health. Go for walks, shower, eat and sleep properly—taking care of yourself is crucial right now.

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6. Look Into Support Groups

It’s natural to feel like people don’t understand what you’re going through. Support groups are a good way to remedy that. If you’re ready, look into local groups to join and embrace support from those who have a better idea of your situation.  

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7. Keep a Journal

Journaling is one of the healthiest ways to express your emotions. It might seem hard in the beginning, but putting pen to paper allows you to keep hold of memories, organize your thoughts, and work through your emotions.

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8. Establish a Routine

Maintaining a routine can offer some stability. Create a daily schedule with activities you enjoy and tasks you can reasonably manage, regardless of how small they seem.

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9. Be Patient

Grieving takes time and there's no "right" or "wrong" way to do it. Be kind and patient with yourself as you navigate the ups and downs, and remember that healing isn’t a linear process.

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10. Volunteer

A good way to make use of your time is through volunteer work. Dedicate some time to an animal shelter or charitable organization to fill up your day and feel good by making a difference.

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11. Honor Your Loved One

Planting a tree, making a memory book, or adding a plaque to a park bench are all ways to keep your partner’s memory alive. Think of how your partner would best be memorialized and start there for a tangible reminder of their presence. 

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12. Explore New Interests

New hobbies offer a welcome distraction, but they’re also an opportunity to learn more about yourself. When you’re ready, use this time to discover new interests as it can help with the healing process.

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13. Expand Your Social Circle

If you and your partner spent time with other couples, attending events solo may be a challenge right now. The silver lining is that you have an opportunity to expand your social circle through new hobbies, group therapy, or volunteer work. Don’t forget about your existing friends in the process, but do express if you prefer one-on-one time as you work through your grief.

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14. Understand Complicated Grief

Grief and complicated grief seem the same, but complicated grief is far more intense and lasts much longer. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms, such as persistent and intrusive thoughts of loss or difficulty accepting what happened. If you experience any of these or any additional signs of complicated grief, it’s best to contact a professional.

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15. Keep Moving Forward

Amid such pain, it can be tempting to retreat, but it’s important to work through your grief, not ignore it. This means baby steps one day at a time. Moving forward doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten your partner, it means you’re on the path to taking care of yourself.

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16. Update Paperwork When Ready

Though it might not be on your mind right away, updating paperwork and financial information is something that eventually needs to happen. Speak with your bank or an advisor to get a better understanding of next steps.

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17. Hold Off On Big Decisions

If you can, hold off on big decisions until you’re in the right mindset. Try not to make any final decisions about things like selling your house or tossing away your partner’s stuff. Grief disrupts our emotions and sleep cycle, so what may seem like a good idea now could easily lead to resentment in the future. 

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18. Know There Are No Easy Answers

At the end of the day, there are no easy answers for how to deal with grief. Whether you speak with a therapist or confide in a support group, you’ll have tools to help you heal, but the journey there won’t be easy. That’s okay. Take the time you need to get your feet on the ground.

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19. Practice Mindfulness Techniques 

To help you stay grounded during such a turbulent time, look into mindfulness techniques. This can include meditation, breathing exercises, or guided imagery to incorporate a sense of calm into your life.

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20. Welcome Distractions

It can be difficult, but encourage yourself to get out of the house. Spend time with loved ones, attend a new class, or go for a walk. 

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