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3 Things to Do When You’re Afraid of Losing Your Spouse

By Jane Duncan Rogers July 01, 2017 Family

My greatest fear as the years went by was that my spouse might die first. Having had no children, the thought of my husband dying first and me being left alone in the world was something I simply couldn’t bear.

Even if I had had children, the idea of my best friend, lover, business partner and companion leaving me behind was unbearable.

So I didn’t think about it – or when the thought came to mind, I just banished it as quickly as I could.

And then my greatest fear came true.

Philip was diagnosed with stomach cancer in October 2010. We had 14 months together from this point, which, rather surprisingly, became one of the best years of our marriage.

We were forced into living in the ‘present moment’ much more than we had ever been. As a result, we found a greater depth of love, joy and peace.

But then he did die. And I was left alone.

Another surprise laid in wait for me, though. I discovered that the fear I had experienced was just that – a projection of thoughts into a future that I did not want.

When it actually came to pass, I coped. I managed. I unearthed strengths in myself I had not anticipated before.

Sadly, though, I also discovered that I had been withholding love from Philip without realizing it. At that point, I promised that if I were fortunate enough to have another relationship one day, then I would make a point of keeping my heart fully open all the time.

If you’re afraid of being abandoned, to go all out with a heart open to love seems like a mad idea – it’s counter-intuitive. And yet it is the thing to do.

That is the one way that will help you experience the fullness of life and love right now. And that doesn’t have to be just with a new partner – it can be with anyone.

Here are my tips:

Acknowledge Your Partner Might Die Before You

When you acknowledge that your partner might die before you, that lessens the pressure. If you try to push fear away, it simply hangs around, waiting until you do recognize it is there.

Let the Feeling in

I would recommend that when any feeling comes knocking at the front door – even if we don’t like it – our job is to open the door. Welcome it in. Open the windows of your house and let it fully in.

But also, open all the doors at the back of your house, so the feeling can easily leave as well. It will do that. This is exactly what happened with all the rage, the tears, the bewilderment, fear, worry, depression and insecurity that I felt. That’s how I can speak so authoritatively about this now.

Keep Your Heart Open

You can learn to do this. I did it (and still do) by meditating every day, using a chakra meditation. You can tell when your heart is open or closed; keeping your heart open is a much more fulfilling way to live.

After Philip died, I promised myself that if I had the chance to meet another man, I would open my heart fully, and keep it open. I would reap the benefits from that new relationship in honor of the time we had had together.

And it has happened – about 3.5 years after Philip’s death, I met a lovely widower with whom I intend to spend the rest of my life. We can easily talk about our spouses, and in fact, feel that they are both in this new relationship with us.

All of this has led me to be truly grateful for Philip’s life and the 20 years we shared together. But also to feel truly grateful for his death, and what I learnt about myself as a result.

Now, my work is educating others to feel more at ease with dying, death and grief – and I feel like Philip still works alongside me, just like he always used to. It is a future I could never have foreseen.

Read Jane’s book Gifted by Grief: A True Story of Cancer, Loss and Rebirth and find out more about her products and programs to help you prepare well for the ending of lives, whether it be your spouse’s or your own. Or discover for yourself how well prepared you are for a good end of life by taking the Before I Go quiz here. Watch Jane’s TedX talk ‘How to Do a Good Death.’

Are you afraid that your spouse might die before you? Are you prepared for your husband to die before you or would you rather not think about it? Please join the discussion below!

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I’m really struggling with the realization that either myself or my husband will be going to the others funeral at some point in our lives. That fear stretches to other relationships too, but the worst is thinking that the likelihood my husband will die before me fills me with dispair (he 48 and myself 34). I imagine myself at 80 alone and so sad. And that’s the best case scenario, that’s if we both live long lives.

I’ve never really thought about death until recently. I met my beautiful man, we have had years of fun and happiness and now it’s hit me. I cry as soon as I think about it. My husband practices taoism and I’m trying to implement some of their teachings. It’s still hard though.

Jane Duncan Rogers

Leah, I hear you. This kind of fear can be really debilitating. However, all fear is a projection into the future, which takes you out of right now, meaning you miss the moment of enjoyment while it is happening.

Here’s what I did when I found myself struggling with this same issues:

  1. Deliberately direct my thoughts elsewhere. I recognised I was ‘fear-mongering’ and made myself think other, more positive things, until the moment passed.

2. Practiced the 5 Minute Flip. This consists of spending 5 minutes imagining the worst fear possible, really going for it, and when the 5 minutes is up, focusing on all the things I am most grateful for right now, and any other things that are good in my life.

Finally I can suggest reading my book Before I Go: The Essential Guide to Creating a Good End of Life Plan. Many readers have said that taking the actions from this book has helped them come to terms with their fear of death.


Of course, I don’t want to lose my husband before me. I also find it hard to comprehend the idea of not he or I not being here anymore.. I’m 69. Three of our four parents passed before the age that we are now…
I’m worried that if my husband dies before me that the process of doing all the things that need to be done will be overwhelming. On the other hand, my husband is an only child. He took care of both of his parents when they were dying. I don’t want him to have to do the same with me.
(My name is Barbara)

Last edited 1 year ago by Barnara

The Author

Jane Duncan Rogers, author of Before I Go: The Essential Guide to Creating a Good End of Life Plan, is founder of not-for-profit They run an online Licensed End of Life Plan Facilitators training program, and provide products and courses to help people make a good end of life plan.

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