8 Steps to Healing After the Death of Your Life Partner

Few life events are as painful as the death of your husband, wife or partner.

A woman puts her arm around her mother to console her

You may be uncertain how you will survive this overwhelming loss. You may even question if you have the energy or desire to try. These 8 practical suggestions may help you move toward healing.

  1. Allow Yourself to Grieve - Your partner has died. If you feel confused, that’s OK; you have lost a part of yourself. You are now faced with the difficult but important need to mourn. Mourning is the open expression of your thoughts and feelings. It is an essential part of healing.
  2. Grieve in Your Own Way - Your experience is influenced by the circumstances surrounding the death, other losses you have experienced, your emotional support system and your cultural and faith background. Don’t compare your experience with that of others. Take a one-day-at-a-time approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.
  3. Talk Out Your Thoughts and Feelings - Healing starts when you can share your grief with others. Allow yourself to talk about the death, your feelings of loss and loneliness and the special things you miss about your partner.
  4. Feel a Mixture of Emotions - Experiencing any death affects your head, heart and spirit. Confusion, disorientation, fear, guilt, relief and anger are just a few of the emotions you may feel. Don’t be overwhelmed if you suddenly experience periods of pain or grief that seem to come from nowhere. Allowing yourself to learn from these feelings and emotions helps you heal.
  5. Find a Support System - Reach out to people who care about you and are willing to walk with you through your grief. Find a support group you might want to attend. Avoid people who are critical, judgmental or who want to give advice. You have the right to express your grief, but you also have the right not to share.
  6. Grief Is Hard Work - Grief is emotional and physical. You feel and lives through your emotional, physical and spiritual being. Respect what your body is telling you. Treat yourself as you would a good friend.
  7. Do Things When the Time Is Right - There are things you must do right away, but for the most part, don’t make yourself do anything until you are ready. You can make some decisions now and wait before making other decisions. Don’t let others make decisions for you.
  8. Celebrate Your Memories - The times you will miss your partner most are the special days the two of you shared. Since pain and loss can be greater during those times, it might help to be with someone else. Share your memories with friends, if you wish, but continue to honor the life you and your spouse shared by keeping a special place in your heart to celebrate and cherish your memories of togetherness.

Find out if hospice care could help your loved one.