Losing your spouse can be the most devastating and stressful experience you can have. Although it is never easy, there are ways you can cope that are healthy and some ways that are not so healthy.This article will give you helpful hints to get through the difficult time and cope.
- accept your feelings and let them come
- get support from your friends and family
- be supportive of family members who are also mourning
- get therapy and go to a support group
- keep active
- isolate and think you can handle the loss on your own
- jump into a new relationship quickly
- neglect your religious faith as a support
- be upset on the holidays, wedding and death anniversaries, and her birthday
- decide that your life is over
Many men are not in touch with their feelings. But a situation where they lose their spouse can bring forth sadness, anger and other feelings that can’t be ignored. Typically, when someone loses a loved one they go through 5 stages of mourning.
Stage 1 is denial. This stage does not last long, typically a day or two. If when your wife died you felt you were not sad and handling it well, then you were in the denial stage.
Anger is the second stage. When you felt angry at the doctors, family members, and others for not taking care of her better, then you were in the anger stage. Sometimes you can be angry with your wife for leaving you despite it being illogical. Remember that when you are upset you do not reason well.
The third stage is bargaining. Bargaining is when you try to make sense of everything. Your try to understand why she died. Often during this phase you do things that seem insane, such as write a letter to her. Ask God to bring her back if you are a religious person. You think of how different it would be if she was still alive. If you go to the grave and talk to her realize that this is part of the bargaining stage and don’t think you are going insane.
Most people think of mourning as sadness and this is stage 4. In sadness you can get depressed or cry. You realize both mentally and emotionally that she is not coming back.
Finally stage 5 is acceptance. Although you will never be glad that your wife died, you accept that she is gone. The good thing about acceptance is that when you think of her you feel glad that you had her in your life and no longer feel only sadness.
In order to go through the stages of mourning, you need support from family and friends. Choose people who have been supportive to you in the past, and not a family member whom you have differences with, unless they seem supportive now. It is okay for a grown man to cry and express himself.
You and your family all need each other. It can feel good to offer support to your in laws and your family who are mourning. The best way for a man to offer support is listen without giving advice, and to offer hugs if the person is affectionate.
Many men think they have to go at it alone and do not seek the support of a therapist or support group. Realize that a therapist can help you express yourself and help you get comfortable with your feelings. Most towns have bereavement support groups that you can find online or in your local newspaper. It can be comforting to realize that others have lost their spouse and are going through what you are going through.
Sometimes you can get so depressed after losing your wife that you do not want to do anything any more. Even if you have to force yourself it is good to get out with friends and visit family. If you do not want to go, remind yourself that you may feel good when you get there.
This is the corollary of Do #5. Sitting around the house and isolating will make you feel worse. Get out and be active as you normally would.
There is an expression: “Rebound Relationship.” This happens when someone who had a breakup or a bereavement gets into a new relationship quickly. You need to complete the mourning stages (which generally takes about a year) before you get into a new relationship. You also need to decide what you want in a woman if you remarry. Rebound relationships happen to people who can’t stand to be alone and go to any extreme to avoid aloneness.
Some men get mad at god. Their reasoning goes, “How can he care about me since he took my wife?” Church and faith can be a good support to you.
Many people think they have to commemorate anniversaries with sadness. You can just as easily pamper yourself on the holidays and anniversaries by having a good time and reminding yourself of the good times you had with your wife.
Even if you are in your 60’s or older it is good to plan a life and a future. It could include a new career, a new marriage ( but note don’t # 2) or more time with the family and friends that you still have. If your wife loved you she would want you to go on and enjoy the rest of your life.
Hopefully this article has given you some healthy coping tools for bereavement and some pitfalls to avoid. The main thing is to accept support from others and to continue your life. Also, reach out for the help of a therapist or bereavement counselor. They can be knowledgeable resource to help you cope and understand the feelings you are experiencing.