Chapter 3: Identifying your losses
Losing the person who remembers your shared past; losing a companion, confidante, or someone with shared interests.
Having to live on your own, perhaps for the first time ever or after many years; losing your home or your spouse’s income.
Changing from spouse to widow or widower; going from married or partnered to single; becoming a single parent.
Losing benefits that stopped when your spouse died.
Questioning the way your saw or understood your spouse after learning something you didn’t previously know (either positive or negative).
Recognizing and naming these layers of grief can help you to understand your feelings and find ways to live with your losses, but this often takes time and the support of others.
What may help
- Acknowledge to yourself and others that change is often hard to accept.
- Be aware that other events, such as a friend moving away, can add to your feelings of loss, and even happy events can bring feelings of loss. For example, the birth of a grandchild may bring both joy and sorrow as you think about your spouse’s absence.
- Stay open to self-discovery. If you depended heavily on your spouse to make certain decisions or do certain tasks, you might discover talents you didn’t know you had or different preferences and a freedom to act on them. You may feel a new self-confidence about your ability to manage difficult or challenging situations.
- Recognize your own growth. Gaining something doesn’t diminish or somehow cancel your grief. You can still feel the pain of your loss while at the same time acknowledging the ways you have grown from it.