Photo by Pexels
Article contributed by L.Rosetti@TheBereaved.org
The passing of a partner is a profoundly lonely experience. While many psychologists will talk about the five stages of grief, anyone who has lost a loved one knows there is no manual for how to deal with death and dying. You can feel an array of emotions at any time — sometimes even multiple emotions at once — not to mention the stress of dealing with the fallout from a loved one’s death. From managing final arrangements to making major financial decisions, the process can be extremely hard, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible.
Right now may not be the time to think about these things. You may just need to be in the moment and present in your emotions. It might be helpful to begin the process of sorting through your grief by doing it privately through an online program rather than sharing everything you’re going through with your loved ones, and that’s okay. But when you are ready, here are a few tips for tackling the difficult tasks that follow a major loss.
Caring for Yourself
When you’re mourning a loss, self-care is the last thing on your mind. Taking a shower, eating well, and sleeping enough can seem like impossible tasks, but they are imperative to your health and well-being while you heal. If you’ve been eating too much fast food — or perhaps not eating at all — make nutrition your first priority. Many times, friends and family who want to help are happy to provide meals. Supplement those meals by having healthy, easy-to-prepare options on hand. Even if you still aren’t feeling up to getting dressed or leaving the house, you can order groceries online and have them delivered to your door, though keep in mind that some stores charge anywhere from $1 to $6.95 for deliveries.
Clearing out belongings
One of the hardest things to do is to purge your loved one’s belongings. For some people, it is another wound that can cut almost as deeply as the original loss. Others feel a sense of relief and lightness living without the constant reminders of their life before their partner’s death. Either way, purging isn’t easy. The most important thing to remember is to take your time. There’s no need to rush. You can help ease the process by renting a storage unit to house belongings that you don’t want to see every day, but aren’t ready to let go of. This will buy you some time to really think through what you want to keep, donate and sell.
Creating a new household budget
With the loss of a loved one comes major financial shifts. For instance, you might be losing an additional income or gaining a lump sum from a life insurance policy. You also might be paying out of pocket for medical bills and funeral costs. The average cost of final arrangements can run upward of $10,000, so even in the midst of early grief, you’ll have to make some major financial decisions. One way to begin looking forward is to create a new household budget that includes the major purchases you’ve had to make and any changes in household income. This might be scary — some families take a serious financial hit after a death. But avoiding the reality of your finances will eventually lead to more stress and anxiety. Getting a budget and financial plan in place means you don’t have as much uncertainty to deal with.
Staying social and connected
As you grieve, it’s sometimes hard to face the day. The last thing you want to do is put on a smile and share it with the world, but staying connected is an important way to keep grief from taking over your life. You can keep it simple — you don’t have to go to parties, host gatherings or hang out in crowded places. Have dinner or go to a movie with a friend. Take a walk, or try a yoga class. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, and you definitely don’t want to feel overwhelmed, but try to focus on staying connected. It can be hard to allow yourself to have fun, but isolating yourself will only inhibit your healing process.
After a partner or spouse dies, it’s not uncommon to feel left behind. You might feel anxious or nervous, and that is okay — but you can, and should, take steps to manage your grief so that you can grow to feel more hopeful and find some peace over time.