We choose our spouse because we want to create a life together with them, sharing adventures and making treasured memories. So, when our partner passes and we find ourselves living alone, the transition can be exceptionally challenging. It may feel like life as you knew it will never return, and the grief you are feeling may be overwhelming and all consuming. But the most important thing to know is that life does go on; it may not be the same for a very long time, or even at all, but you can adjust to life without your spouse being a part of it.
Here are some tips for adjusting to life after your partner has passed.
The normal parts of grief and mourning
Everybody grieves differently, and there are many different ways you can feel when someone close to you has died, especially when this person is your partner. However, most people will experience similar feelings during a period of mourning and grief.
Some of the most common feelings people have experienced after the death of a partner include:
- Guilt for being the one who is still alive
- Anger that you have been left behind
- A lack of appetite
- Problems concentrating
- Finding it difficult to make decisions
- Overwhelming loss
- Physical pain
As well as all these feelings, it’s also common to feel pressure to put your own life back together and move on from the loss. This can be one of the hardest things to do, and for some people, it can take a considerable amount of time. Others might feel better sooner than they expect.
It is essential to remember that you will have good days and bad days; you may feel that you have taken three steps forward and two back, but this is all normal.
Unfortunately there’s no magic wand that will allow you to get your life back to where it used to be, but in time and with a little effort, you will be able to adjust to life without your partner in it.
Here are some tips to help you get back on track.
Have a support system
Many people think they need to move through their grief on their own, but this can leave you feeling alone and isolated. Oftentimes, this makes the transition harder to cope with. It is essential that you have a good support system around you.
Your support system might include family members, compassionate friends, or anyone who you feel will listen to you and guide you through this difficult time. Keep in mind that friends and family will also be grieving this loss, even if it’s not to the same degree. Sharing your feelings, your mindset and your memories with one another can be cathartic. In doing so, you are also keeping your partner’s memory alive.
Arrange grief counselling
Apart from talking to friends and family, you might consider regular grief counselling with a professional. Professional help is particularly useful if you feel your grief has gone on too long or is still so intense that it’s stopping you from getting on with the business of living.
This will give you time with a qualified grief counsellor or therapist who will allow you to work through your feelings. They will also provide practical help and strategies to manage your emotions.
You can have grief counselling on a one-to-one basis, or, if you think it will be more beneficial, you could consider joining a group of people who have all experienced a similar loss. It is up to you to consider which approach is better for you.
Look after yourself
It is essential to ensure that you take good care of yourself during a period of mourning. As well as taking a mental toll on your body, it can take a physical toll too.
Ensure that you eat as healthily as you can, even if you are not feeling hungry. Try your best to sleep as much as you can, although it can be tricky. When the time is right, do your best to get back to things that you used to enjoy, before your partner died.
Try not to ignore your grief, doing so will likely make it more difficult to manage. So, accept help or companionship from those around you rather than sitting alone.
Living alone after years of being part of a couple can feel confronting. Having somewhere to be or something to do each day can help. Spend some time thinking about the week ahead and schedule some plans. You could visit the library, take a walk or grab a coffee with a friend, join an exercise or crafting class, learn something new or spend time with grandchildren. Any of these options will provide a break in the day and give you something to look forward to.
Get your affairs in order
After the passing of your spouse, you might need to apply for probate and administer their estate. When you’re ready, go through their belongings and decide whether you want to keep, gift or donate each item. Doing this can be quite emotional, so you might want to ask for help. Breaking the task up can also make it easier.
Once you feel a little better, consider reviewing your own legal and financial affairs. You might need to update your Will and enduring powers of attorney, and change the name on the titles of any property you own. It’s also a good idea to review your regular bills.
Think about your children’s grief
If you have children, remember that they are also going through their own grieving process, no matter their age. They will also need to adjust to life without your spouse or their parent.
Their relationships with you and with one another may change. Whilst this may be daunting, it can be a positive change too so try to welcome the next phase of your relationship with them.
The most important thing to know about adjusting to life without your partner is that it will take time; mourning is not a short process. Also, it’s a rollercoaster of emotions so don’t be too hard on yourself as you move through the ups and downs. However, once you get through the worst of it, you will find yourself on a new stage of life and all it has to offer, with some fantastic memories of your partner to treasure always.