Guest post by Hazel Bridges
Even after so many years together, it never feels like enough time when a loved one is nearing the end of their life. You’ve watched their health decline over the past few months, and as you prepare a peaceful environment for their final days, you can’t help but feel a deep pang of anxiety. What will happen when it’s finally time to say goodbye?
Life after loss is a difficult concept to grasp, but it’s one we all must face in our lives. Here is some advice for handling your grief after the loss of a loved one.
CARING FOR YOURSELF
The most important thing to remember during the loss of a loved one is to continue caring for your own needs. During such an emotionally draining time, it can be difficult to focus on anything else, but even when our emotions are in a veritable maelstrom, we still require the basic necessities: food, water, and rest.
During your grieving, you may find yourself sleeping longer. Don’t fight your body’s urge to rest and recuperate — view this as part of the physical healing that follows an emotional spike. As you go begin resting up, remember to stay hydrated and eat regularly, even if you don’t have an appetite.
By caring for yourself during the delicate aftermath of loss, you’ll ensure that your grief isn’t compounded by physical and mental exhaustion.
GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
After caring for your terminally ill spouse, which includes making sure they have a peaceful area to spend their final days, it can seem unfathomable that life could ever be “normal” again after he or she passes away. In a way, it’s true that you can never go back to what you once considered as normal. Instead, you’ll have to create a “new normal” for yourself.
Creating a new normal begins with tiny efforts to get back into some sort of routine. By creating a schedule for yourself, you can help get your mind off your loss and start building the path to move forward. Even the smallest tasks, such as folding clothes or making your bed, can give you a sense of accomplishment.
As you move from task to task, change your mindset from looking back at the pain of your loss to looking ahead at what you need to do.
VALUE YOUR CURRENT RELATIONSHIPS
In the immediate aftermath of loss, you can feel lost and alone, but this is not always the reality of your situation. You are surrounded by family and friends who love and care for you very much.
Sometimes during loss, you may feel like closing yourself off from others, and this may be okay at first to process your emotions. However, there will be a time to turn back toward your current relationships and allow love back into your life.
Spending time with friends and family can help with your grieving process, since nearly all of these relationships will have known your spouse and will also be deeply affected by the loss. Sharing your grief with others is a great way to understand and weigh your feelings, which helps with the overall healing process.
Additionally, focusing on current relationships will pull you from going too far into your grief, keeping you in the present moment and reconnecting with life.
The journey after losing a spouse is a long and weary road. There will be times when you miss them dearly, and it’s okay to feel grief months or even years after their loss. But by continuing to care for yourself and valuing the relationships around you already, you can find your “new normal” and find wellness in your life once again.
Photo Credit: Pixabay.com
Hazel Bridges is the creator of AgingWellness.org, a website that aims to provide health and wellness resources for aging seniors. She’s a breast cancer survivor. She challenges herself to live life to the fullest and inspire others to do so as well.