The Loss of a Spouse

A common theme among people who have lost their spouse is the debilitating effects of feeling entirely alone and incomplete. The sense of feeling like you have lost an essential part of yourself is both painful and disconcerting. The world suddenly looks like a different place, often odd and distanced. You are not sure how to cope with life in general, and sometimes you may even wonder if you even want to try.

Some of the most common feelings and concerns after the loss of a spouse are reflected in the following statements:
  •           I felt like I had lost my best friend
  •           I am angry.
  •           I feel guilty that I didn’t do enough for him/her.
  •           I am afraid.
  •           I worry about lots of things, especially money.
  •           Suddenly I feel very old.
  •           I feel sick all the time.
  •           I think about my own death more frequently.
  •           I seem to be going through an identity crisis.
  •           I feel relieved that his suffering is over, then immediately guilty for feeling that way.

Behind each of these statements is a feeling. To fully understand the effects that the loss of that spouse has on that survivor, we need to understand the dynamics behind each of these reactions. The feeling communicates what the person is missing and offers an opportunity to examine the deficiency and find ways to cope with these responses in a way which will ultimately facilitate healing.

It is essential to recognize that healing cannot take place unless you EXPRESS what you are feeling and thinking as a result of your loss. That which cannot be put into words, cannot be put to rest. This is where a support group can play such a vital role for grieving people. The opportunity to talk about the person, their life as well as their death, what you miss about them, your feelings of loneliness, anger and many others, and to review the final days of their life and your relationship.

~Adapted from an article by Dr. Bill Webster