When Your Spouse Dies
John Kennedy Saynor
In recent years, the term A family has been re-defined. This has occurred because of an increase in divorce, separation, remarriage or alternative lifestyles that determine who you consider your family to be. With this in mind, I use the term spouse to refer to that person with whom you share your life, your love, your hopes and your dreams.
Here are some of those losses.
- giving and receiving love
- the uniqueness of a spousal relationship
- dreams for the future
- their history as a couple
- sharing the big and small things of life
- dependency on each
- other financial, emotional or social support
- joie de vivre
- acceptance by their spouse
- identity as a spouse
- daily routine
- physical intimacy
- their future as they thought it would be
You can probably identify with many of the losses listed above. There may be other losses you can add to this list. The flip side of the coin is that you may actually be relieved your spouse is gone. Perhaps you, like may others, have been unhappy for years in this relationship. Even though you may feel a great deal of relief that the other person is gone, you may be surprised to find yourself grieving. Why am I grieving? people in this situation ask me.
You may also mourn a number of other losses like:
- the chance to make the relationship work
- the courage to get out of the relationship.
- the loss of romantic adventure.
- the loss of someone to fight with!
- the loss of routine, even if you didn’t like it!
Don’t be surprised to find yourself grieving over someone you may not have loved. If that is the case, then you may find it helpful to seek help from a professional who can help you sort through these feelings.
5. Anxious to get on with your life This may seem contradictory to the four previous points, but grief is like that – a series of contradictions. If you are young, then you will quite naturally want to get on with your life. There may be a lot you want to do in relationship to your career. You may have children who will still give you a much needed reason to live and to plan for the future. It may be that your spouse had a long illness and you will quite naturally feel relieved it is all over. You aren’t being disrespectful to your spouse by feeling this way. Use all your spouse gave you emotionally, spiritually, psychologically and mentally to forge new paths. Let your new life be a tribute to the time you had together.
RECOVERING FROM THE DEATH OF YOUR SPOUSE.
1. Give yourself permission to grieve. People often ask, What do I have to do? The best answer to that question is, Grieve. You are a grieving person and that is what you should be doing right now.
2. Be patient with yourself and the process. Recovering from a significant loss will take time: perhaps years. But healing will come. You will begin to see the light again and life will have new meaning.
3. Consider joining a support group. You will receive a great deal of support and insight by meeting with those who have experienced a similar loss.
4. Remember the good times. While this will be painful at first, eventually the memories will be a comfort. Good memories will also make you grateful for the times you had together and gratitude is a great healer.
5. Learn from this experience. Spend time thinking about what gained from the relationship. How did the relationship prepare you for what you are going through? How has this event affected your values and priorities? How would you like to spend the rest of your life?
6. Draw on your spiritual resources. All of life is a spiritual journey. The journey through grief is a unique part of that journey. You will be taken to places you never thought possible and to growth you never imagined. Listen to the words and music of your spirituality and allow them to sustain you at this time.
One last thing. Although your loved one is no longer with you physically, his or her love, influence and memory will never leave you. There will be days when you will be doing things that he or she would have wanted you to do. Then there will be days when you will say, If Bob knew I was doing this he would roll over in his grave! or If Jean could see me now, she would die laughing!
Let the memories and the stories be a comfort to you and give you the courage to carry on.
©John Kennedy Saynor. Used with permission. Copies of this brochure are available at The Ross Funeral Chapel in Port Hope, Ontario. For further information about how to access this brochure as well as others in the series, please call Jamieson Ross at 905-885-4931 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org