A friend of the family recently lost her husband of 60-plus years. Before going to bed that first night after his death, the hard reality hit her. She sadly told her sister, “I have no one to sleep with me tonight.”
The loss of a spouse changes your life in many ways. While you can’t erase the changes, you can make the rough patches a little smoother and over time learn to adapt to—and even enjoy—your new life.
Take your time. Everyone goes through the stages of grief—denial, bargaining, anger, depression and acceptance—at their own rate. For that reason, no one else can tell you when you’re ready to clean out her things, erase his message from the voice mail or resume your regular daily activities. Don’t rush it; do everything in your own time!
Talk about it. Find friends and family who will let you get it out. Studies show that most grief resolves itself on its own but if you feel stuck (particularly if sadness is impacting your physical and mental health), professional help may be the best route.
Cry it out. Crying isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s your body’s natural mechanism to make you feel better. Ridding the body of toxins that build up in times of stress, tears also contain leucine enkephalin, an endorphin that reduces pain and improves your mood.
Stay active. After years of living with a partner, you may need to plan regular activities to deliberately fill that new alone time. Schedule weekly dinners with friends, volunteer, sign up for an exercise class or offer to watch your grandchildren. Having a pet to take care of is also a good time filler … and distraction.
Start moving on slowly. To find love again, you don’t have to forget your spouse. You simply have to accept the fact that a new person and the relationship the two of you build will be different. Opening your heart to these differences could open the door to a new chapter in your life.