Chapter 4: Your changing relationship with your husband, wife, or partner

Your ongoing relationship

I've been there
Bonnie talks about how moments of happiness are a way for her to honour her husband.(3:22)Video transcript
The grief expert says
Chris defines the concept of a continuing bond.(3:22)Video transcript

I still see him in my dreams sometimes, and it feels like I saw him in real life. We never speak; we just look at each other. Afterwards, I feel sadness, but I also enjoy the dreams because I’m able to see him.

I go back to the restaurant where we had our first date and afterwards I walk in the park across the street and follow the same path we took. Being there reminds me that it was all real and that we are still connected.

Many bereaved people continue to feel a connection with someone who has died. It may sound strange or confusing to hear about this, or you may feel relieved to know that your feelings about an ongoing connection are supported by grief research and the experiences of others.

Click the arrows below for some examples.

Each person has to find their own way of integrating their losses as they live with loss and grief. When your partner has died, this can mean having a new kind of relationship with them: not a physical one, but one where you may feel emotionally and/or spiritually connected through memories or internal dialogue. Even if your relationship was troubled, you can “hold on” to memories while also “letting go” of what was. In this way, your grief can be a bridge between your past and future.

What may help

Whatever the nature of your relationship was, there are ways for you to include parts that can be helpful or important to you as you move forward in your life:

  • Placing a favourite photograph where you and others will see it regularly
  • Listening to a song or watching a movie that had meaning to you and/or your partner
  • Pausing in the day to send or listen for a message, or to recall a memory
  • Saying your spouse’s name out loud and asking others to do the same
  • Reflecting on significant moments that may have been sad, joyful, or funny
  • Using your experiences, good or bad, to enrich your life or that of someone else
  • Thinking about what your partner might most want you to remember
  • Reminding yourself of what is most important to you

Helpful resources - A Grief Concept You Should Care About: Continuing Bonds - Continuing Bonds: Shifting the Grief Paradigm