How to cope with the loss of a spouse – Year One
My mom passed away 2 weeks ago and now all the grief from the death of my husband are coming back. Lots of familiar anxieties and feelings of regret and sadness are resurfacing. It’s been 4 years since my husband passed, but getting through year one is filled with many challenges. It helps to know we are not doing this alone and that one day, it will be better.
My bereavement group provided us with handouts on ways to deal with our grief. We met one evening each week for an hour and a half. The group was made up of 12 women who have lost their husbands in the past year. We are all similar in age which is helpful and there is one facilitator. The first week everyone tells their story and there are lots of tears. Some deaths were sudden and some were long sicknesses. However, we are all similar in so many ways dealing with coping after this loss.
Successful ways that I deal with anxiety and grief are listed below.
- Yoga – that’s been helpful at times for centering my thoughts and feeling good. The stretching and movement is important. Doing an online class or joining a studio are great options. Of course the time I was the only one in the class, and the male teacher had me close my eyes, and then sang to me while playing the guitar was a bit weird, but most of the time I like yoga. Healing with weekenders and yoga ladies.
2. Meditation – I’m not that “good” at it so I find guided meditations on the you tube app of my phone and listen to them. The benefits of spending even two minutes a day sitting quietly and focusing on the present, following your breath, include less stress, better sleep, and can even lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I especially like listening to Jason Stevenson’s guided imagery available on YouTube.
3. Acupuncture – This has really helped me with relaxing and relieving stress. Health reports state acupuncture can help alleviate physical pain as well as anxiety. Read more here: Acupuncture – Healing for physical pain to depression to infertility. Worth a try?
4. Connect with others – I have kept myself busy with friends this past year. I work during the day and meet with colleagues regularly during lunch to discuss our Kindergarten curriculum and more. I started playing bridge each week with some neighbors and took a mahjong class at the library. I joined 2 book clubs so I have reading to do and meet up with the girls once a month. Walking with a few neighbors in the morning is another way to connect with people, when I can get up early enough before work.
5. Travel (plan a distraction) – I planned many trips this past year: My oldest son and I took a road trip to Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee to visit family and my youngest son at college. For Christmas we did something different and took a cruise to Mexico. For my husband’s birthday we took a trip to Cape Cod and New Hampshire. My son and I spent Easter in Colorado. skiing. And in anticipation of the one year death Anniversary I spent 2 weeks in Thailand, Having trips to look forward to kept me going on my saddest days.
6. Therapy – I have been seeing an individual grief therapist every 2 weeks and did EMDR for therapy regarding PTSD. I visited my medical doctor regarding my health. Now I am trying the bereavement group. Visiting people in the medical community along with acupuncture and yoga specialists helps me verbalize my feelings and how I am approaching my future.
7. Get a puppy – Harry is so cute and keeps me company. My last dog died two years ago and we had not planned on getting another one. After Mike died, it seemed like a perfect idea to keep me company, get me outside to give him walks and have something to care about. Harry is so happy to see me when I come home and snuggles in bed with me at night. I must admit, he rescued me, this little puppy.
8. Shop– Yes, I have done some shopping on line and enjoy getting packages delivered. Amazon has been my friend and helped put a smile on my saddest days. I am wearing better clothes than I have in years and it does make me feel better to look nice. I even found Happiness at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It’s fun to redecorate the house any way I want.
9. Have a reading from a Psychic Medium – I felt this to be very comforting. I have had several readings and the messages and details that they were able to provide me with made me feel that Mike is still here in spirit and I have come to look for and notice signs that he is still with me. Why reaching out to Psychic Mediums in grief can be comforting
10. Walk – taking walks gives me exercise which always makes me feel better and sometimes I talk to Mike and imagine what advice he would give me. Sometimes I walk with friends which is nice for chatting with others. My walks with the dog are usually not too long as Harry prefers to stop and smell the bushes every 10 steps.
11. Start a new tradition in my loved one’s memory – I decided to honor his memory on his birthday, the 4th of July, by celebrating his life with family, remembering good times and eating ice cream. On the anniversary of his death, I will make a donation to a charity in his name like I did this past August to Destiny Rescue.
12. Read about Grief – I searched so hard in the beginning to learn how to cope. I needed to listen and learn from other people’s grief. Although friends and family were supportive, it was important to not feel so alone on this path. Many people have lost a spouse and it is not a fun club to be in. I discovered several blogs on line, I joined a few Facebook widow support groups and I also collected and read books. It all helps. 10 Best Grief books
13. Work – It gets me out of bed. Having a place to go to that needs you each day can be very healing. Hopefully you can find a job you like with people you like. It is a good distraction and at times can be fun.
14. Join a Bereavement Group – The hospice network or GriefShare offer groups for people experiencing a loss. The group I went to was for 8 weeks with a group of 12 widows of similar age. During the meetings we had a chance to share and discussions were led by a certified counselor. In addition, ongoing meetings are available for members to attend with a variety of topics.
15. Journal – I found that writing in my journal was a good way for me to express myself and let out my feelings. I wrote letters to my husband, telling him all the things that I never got to say. I also had him write back to me. I knew what he would tell and it made me feel better.
So these are some of the more positive actions that I took to cope this past year. Would love to hear any other suggestions. I am moving into year 2 and will probably need to find some new ideas.
For more ideas check out my book: No Simple Highway- a widow’s journey to seek justice for her husband’s death.
You safe doing awesome on a very difficult path. Keep up the good work and keep sharing, you will probably never know how many lives you have touched, comforted and encourage to go on a try something new. I know, I was once where you are now and when you ask God to expand your world He will in ways you never thought possible.
I love this. I too lost someone I love very much, my Grandmother. I know it’s a different type of love than from a spouse but a loss of a significant loved one, is still a loss, it still hurts the same… I knew her transition that I would need counseling especially since I’m a counseling in training… it helped. Continue writing about your feelings and experiences; writing really is a form of healing.
Counseling and talking to professionals really helped me a lot. Good luck with your training and thanks for reading.
So much good advice. So sorry for your losses, you are very brave to share your story.
Thank you for reading. Some days are definitely tougher than others.
I have just had my worst breakdown day since my husbands passing 12/17/20. It’s a loneliness that physically hurts. I hope too take comfort from your blog and to learn how too cope with the feelings by channeling the loss I feel into something positive in my life. Thank you for sharing!!
Oh Anne that’s for reaching out and I am sorry for your pain. I have been there and if my blog and experiences in life after loss bring you some comfort that life will go on I am happy for that. There will be plenty of bad days, so when you have the chance for some happiness take it. Sending you hugs.
It has been 5 years since my husband’s death. He suffered from a chronic illness nearly all of his adult life. The last two years of his life, he was hospitalized 16 times in 3 different hospitals and received 45 units of blood. He was seeing 12 different specialists, it was a nightmare. He said, “I’m done”, entered Hospice and was gone 10 days later. The grief is gut wrenching and the loneliness horrible. I am thankful it is me doing this and not him! My friend of 35 years stepped away when he died. Grieving the dead and the living at the same time nearly broke me.
Oh I am so sorry for your loss. You both went through so much together. And losing a friend is hard too. Wishing you strength to move forward and find happiness again.