Coping with Lonliness After the Loss of a Spouse
The loss of a spouse often brings with it a special kind of bereavement. Whether the death was sudden or expected after a long illness, the emotions are typically intense and enormous lifestyle changes must follow.
In fact, according to the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, which measures the stressfulness of major life events, the death of a spouse is the most stressful and traumatic experience a person can endure. If you or a loved one has recently lost a spouse, we hope you’ll read on for some helpful information about dealing with the loneliness that often ensues.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of spouse. You may feel numb, brokenhearted, overwhelmed, or anxious. You might feel relieved that your spouse is no longer suffering if he or she was ill for a long time, and you even may feel guilty for it. You may cry incessantly, or you may not. How you grieve is unique to you. Your personal reaction depends on many contributing variables. Your emotional makeup, how your spouse died, how good your marriage was, the age of your children if you have then, and how long you were married, for example, all have a role in the grief reaction. Whatever it is you’re feeling, go easy on yourself. This is not the time to berate yourself. Well-meaning friends and family may not know what to say or may make inappropriate comments. Go easy on them, as well. Remember that losing a loved one is hard for everyone involved.
After coping with the loss of a life partner, many widows and widowers experience intense feelings of loneliness. The empty house. Memories that flood in from every direction. It may feel like you’ve lost your identity or that part of you is “missing”. Here are some helpful ways to convert the mourning process into a nurturing process as you seek to rebuild and reorganize your life.
Acknowledge your loss, but avoid the trap of self-pity. If you’re feeling lonely, there’s no benefit to be gained from wallowing in it. Be proactive and commit to finding positive, healthy ways to combat those feelings of isolation. Your friends and family can be powerful sources of encouragement and comfort in your time of need. But ultimately, only you can make the changes that will enhance your happiness in the long term. Be willing and open to connect with others and move on with your life.
Take up a hobby. If you had favorite activities that you participated in before your spouse died, get back to them. Or if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try something new? From cooking to travel, clubs and organizations exist for almost any activity imaginable. Look online, in the newspaper, or visit the senior center to find people in your area who share your interests.
Give back. One of the most positive ways to cope with the loss of a spouse is to do things to help others. Find a cause that you’re interested in and know that like-minded people will be found there. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, work with pets that need loving homes, or help your favorite charity with fundraising events. These acts of charity will have a positive impact on the lives of others while helping you to become involved and meet new people. Many widows and widowers say that the motivation they gained from giving back is what got them feeling engaged again after their loss.
Improve your physical environment. Take a look around your house. Is it cheerful and well-kept? A cluttered, untidy or dismal home environment can reflect your state of mind. But the opposite is also true, and change tends to happen from the inside out. The more you do to enhance your environment, making it pleasant and inviting, the more your emotional health will be positively influenced.
Be choosy about who you spend time with. In loneliness, there can be a sense of desperation to fill the empty time and spaces. But it’s important to be particular about who you socialize with. Be cautious about those who are lonely because their behavior has caused the demise of their relationships. People who are always negative or bitter. Those who only seem to care about themselves. Individuals who seek to bring others down with them. Being alone is always better than being with the wrong people. As you get to know yourself better and who you are after loss, use this time to define who deserves to be in your life.
How you choose to live your life from this day on is the greatest tribute you can give your deceased loved one. If you have questions or need additional help dealing with your symptoms of grief and loneliness, please reach out to us anytime. We’re always here for you.
About Vaughn Greene Funeral Services: For more than 20 years, Vaughn Greene Funeral Services has been providing a ministry of care to Baltimore’s African American community. As a leading local, minority- and family-owned provider, we promise to provide our highest level of service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved one. For more information, please call us at 410.655.0015 or visit us online at https://vaughncgreene.com/.