Adjusting to the Loss of a Spouse

Mar 20th, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Among the most difficult of experiences for anyone, particularly senior citizens, is dealing with the death of a spouse.

Relationships created by longevity, mellowed by love, deepened by experience, affirmed through familiarity are virtually irreplaceable. Of course we all know of persons who in their second marriage or so are blissfully happy. Such experiences are to be applauded and appreciated.

But, dealing with the loss of a lifetime spouse, in the neighborhood of 40 or more years, is an enormously difficult life experience. While there are preparations that can be considered, emotionally getting through the pain and heartbreak, grief and sudden loss are experiences requiring enormous resiliency.

A clergy colleague, Bob Deits, authored a very helpful guide a number of years ago titled, “Life After Loss.” While he deals with a variety of life losses, the application of his counsel if very useful for spouses who lose spouses. I commend its reading.

Of course, if a partner is going through an extended illness, that puts a different twist on the whole matter. Sudden loss and loss after a long illness are of two different stripes. This in no way reduces the grief or the separation that death brings. It may enable a different means for adjusting.

Adjusting to loss requires patience with oneself. Occasions of sadness and morose downers will come with frequency. Permission needs to be given for dealing with and getting through such times.

Well meaning friends will want to extend themselves to be helpful. Let them, but don’t allow them to go beyond boundaries which you need for yourself. Some well meaning folk will want to “check up on you” but won’t know what to say. Help them keep their conversations brief. What you need at such a time is understanding, some sympathy, but not interference.

Adjusting to loss is an incredibly earth shaking moment. It is unlike many of the heartbreaks in life, but it is one that eventually, for those who are married, breaks in upon our serene existence. When it does, the need for our own strength of faith, affection from others, and patience with ourselves will need to be called upon.



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