How to Let Grief Be Grief, and Nothing Else: Seniors Coping with Loss of a Spouse

For seniors who lose their spouse, it’s likely the hardest time of their entire lives. It’s important to know that grieving is completely natural and healthy. There’s no way to stop grief, and it’s unhealthy to try to stifle it. Everyone grieves in their own way and you should never feel ashamed of your sadness or feel like you need to “speed up” the grieving process.

Having said that, grief can turn into serious health issues like depression, severe loneliness, alcohol abuse, and can have detrimental effects on seniors’ physical health. Caregogi shares some ways to make sure that your grief doesn’t evolve into something unhealthy.

Know that your grief is not a permanent state

While you may feel like it’s impossible to lift yourself from your grief now, it’s important to know that it is not a permanent state.

“One of the most important new findings has shown that for most of us, grief is a severe — but self-limiting — condition, not a permanent state. One study of older men and women who had lost spouses, found that the core symptoms of grief had lifted by six months after the loss for 50 percent of the participants. Smaller groups took up to 18 months or three years to resume normal functioning,” says the AARP.

Knowing that many others have walked in your shoes and have been able to overcome it can help you through the toughest times.

Don’t be afraid to accept stasis – at least for some time

Some dealing with grief may feel like they need to make some big changes, and that it’s not ok to simply grieve for a while. It’s ok to live in some stasis for a period of time following the death of your spouse.

“It can take months or even years to absorb a major loss and accept your changed life.

Try to hold off on making any major changes such as moving or remarrying. You should give yourself time to adjust to your loss,” says

If you find yourself developing strong symptoms of depression or anxiety, however, you should seek help from a doctor or therapist.

Focus on taking care of yourself, first and foremost

The best thing you can do when dealing with grief is to try to take care of yourself. You can achieve this by eating right, getting enough physical activity, socializing, and focusing on getting enough sleep (sleep can be especially difficult during this time. Here, the Sleep Foundation shares tips on getting better sleep). It’s a myth that sad = unhealthy. You can still feel grief on an emotional level and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

“You must take good care of yourself so you can stay well. Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, rest, get exercise and get outside for Vitamin D. Address your grief head-on and participate in support groups, counseling, workshops — whatever it takes to get out and talk about how you’re feeling and deal with it in a healthy way,” says Pathways Home Health and Hospice.

Lean on others

Isolation is a side effect of extreme grief, and you must do what you can to combat this. Force yourself to talk to the important people in your life. By keeping an open line of communication, you can actually avoid family conflict that comes with the stress of a major death in the family.

Memorialize your partner

Look for a comforting way to memorialize your spouse. Not only can this provide a ray of light for you, but if it’s a lasting memorial, you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come. Consider donating money for a bench in your favorite park, or plant a tree in your backyard. If your spouse succumbed to a disease, consider launching a small nonprofit in their honor to raise money for awareness and treatments. ZenBusiness outlines the steps to launch a nonprofit and what a nonprofit entails.

Grief – even grief that lasts for months and even years – is normal. But it’s important that you recognize when grief gets out of control and begins to negatively affect your overall mental and physical wellness.

If you need help after the loss of your spouse contact us today at Caregogi. We are happy to help in this difficult time.