After my husband passed away from cancer and the dust had settled, I was soon left to deal with the pain and suffering that would ensue. I didn’t know how or where to begin putting the pieces of my life back together again.
I felt nervous, anxious and faint at times. Occasionally, I was unsteady on my feet and felt nervous about venturing outside my home, which had become my safe haven where I could hide, mourn, scream and wail.
Here are some ways to manage grief.
Eventually, I sought one-on-one counseling with a grief therapist. This was the first step toward learning how to manage my new feelings. It also gave me permission to grieve out loud. Having a listening ear was all I really needed at the time.
My therapist listened as I expressed my concerns and my fears, and as I ‘talked’ to my husband Chuck and prayed for relief. She was a nonjudgmental voice that helped me through the beginning stages of my grief journey.
In due course, I came to understand this new emotional experience. As a result, I was better able to take control of my grief instead of letting it control me.
Being a part of a group helped me to be in a safe space with others who had suffered the same loss and understood the depth of my sadness. When you’re grieving you should consider joining a group with people who have experienced the loss of a spouse in the same manner that your spouse passed away.
You do not want to be in a group where the cause of death of most of the participants was an illness while one person’s spouse committed suicide or was a murder victim.
All of this matters when considering joining a bereavement group. It is the common experience that bonds you to each other and allows you to express yourself and feel safe. You will find comfort knowing that you are not alone, and in time you will begin to heal.
In the beginning, I just wanted to be alone. I wanted to grieve and not have anyone stop me or halt my tears just because the tears made them uncomfortable.
Eventually, being with friends began to feel good. Not everyone has a network of friends though, so my advice is to cultivate friendships. That way, when you’re faced with adversity, like a loss, you will be surrounded by caring people who can comfort and support you.
Be aware that your children have a different perspective on your loss. They have already lost one parent and don’t want to lose you, too. They are not in touch with how you feel as they are only aware of their own feelings of loss.
They can’t understand how this loss of your husband or wife has changed your life. Sharing your feelings with your children can actually complicate your own grief and theirs as well.
Friends, however, can listen. They can help to get you out, and be there for you. Group outings and social events may be very difficult in the beginning, but as time goes on, you may yearn for a break from the loneliness that is sure to set in at some point.
Friends can also help you to settle into ‘your new normal’ as you re-create yourself and your life as part of your new beginning.
I developed an exercise routine months after my husband passed. I needed to get in shape, and as I did, I began to feel better about myself. Although I still grieved, the workouts helped to improve my outlook toward my future.
Yoga and exercise are what I would recommend to those who grieve. Both, although at the opposite ends of the spectrum, will prove beneficial in improving one’s physical and mental wellness.
As the endorphins set in, you will have boosted your self-esteem and mental clarity, both of which will enhance your ability to heal.
Finding time to reflect on everything that has occurred is crucial to your recovery. Pick a time where you can be one with your thoughts, your lost spouse’s spirit and, if you choose, God.
Morning was a wonderful time for me to do these self-affirming activities. It is before the noise and the energy of the day can impact your psyche. Like a good breakfast, starting off the day with these activities will help to fuel you as you resume your grief journey with the intention of healing.
If you begin to feel as if you do not have a handle on your grief, if you are feeling agoraphobic, reclusive and morbidly depressed, it’s time to consult a physician or holistic practitioner. I did both, and I was helped immensely by acupuncture and homeopathic remedies as well as many talks with my physician.
At some point down the road, you may choose to create a plan for your life. No one needs to know about your goal-setting and future plans, though.
You do not want to risk criticism and judgments which will only add to your ever-prescient grief. This is your plan for your life without a spouse, and in time only you’ll know what that will look like.
Remember, you are your best consultant during this private time with you. The silence will help to renew your spirit and numb the sadness as you move toward a life that is meaningful, less sorrowful and filled with love for yourself. Here are a few ways you can begin to move your life forward.
How do you deal with grief? How have you been able to get past your early days of grieving? How have your children, friends and family been able to help you as you grieve? What new activities have you taken part in that have helped you to heal? How have you re-created your life since the loss of your spouse? Have you had your grieving process interrupted? Briefly share with us your story. Let’s get the conversation going.