If you are in a happy marriage, and suddenly lose your spouse, there’s only one word that will describe it – devastating. In the summer of 2010, I lost my wife as a result of lung cancer. The thought that she had passed didn’t hit me until a week later. After she died, I stayed with family for a week, and then finally returned home. This is when the realization hit me.
Loss of a spouse is different in each situation
Usually, in a loving marriage, the first to pass is the husband. Historically, women are stronger than men, because they seem to let out their emotions much more. I’ve seen husbands who have lost their wives of many years who barely lived a year after the emotional experience. I’ve also seen many women who lived for years after losing their husbands of many years. When my wife passed, we were both in our mid fifties. The first frightening thought that crossed my mind was, “Will I survive this?”
Well, this was six years ago, and today, I have every intention of going on with my life. But this did not happen overnight. The real hurt, and grief began when I returned home after a week to the house we lived in together as husband and wife. I had to convince myself, mentally, that there was nothing I could have done that would have prevented this from happening. But how?
3 ways I handled the loss of my spouse
What I’m about to share with you may seem strange. There were little things I did to make a very bad situation a little better. They didn’t make the grief go away, but did make it a little easier to accept. The grief will never go away. I’ll miss her until I leave this earth, but I’m comfortable with what I have accomplished since her passing.
1. Accept that fact that your spouse is gone, and is not coming back
The first thing I did was convince myself, mentally, that she was gone, was not coming back, and there was nothing I could do to change this. Therefore, I figured, why grieve myself to death. I still have a life, and intend to live it to the fullest. I also convinced myself that this is exactly what my wife would have wanted me to do.
Don’t let me kid you by leading you to believe this was easy. It was not. In fact, the next five weeks were numb. I don’t remember much of anything that happened. At the beginning of the sixth week, I began to come out of it, and make some plans on how I was to live my life. In the old days, when someone lost his or her spouse, they wore black for a year, and went through a period of mourning. I was not about to go through this. Instead, I decided to get a jump start on the future. When you lose a spouse, you’re going to have to move on sooner or later. Why not sooner? The worse thing someone can do is postpone the inevitable.
2. Don’t move. Stay put, and face the ghost
The question I was asked the most after my wife died was, “Are you going to move?” Ironically, at her funeral, I saw my sister’s father-in-law, who had lost his wife about 7 years earlier. He came up to me and said, “Don’t move! You’d be making a big mistake!” At the time, I hadn’t really thought about it, but I decided that he was right.
It’s not necessary that you stay in the house from now on after your spouse is gone. However, it is necessary that you stay there long enough to face the ghost. If you should suddenly lose your spouse, never leave the house right away. This is a big mistake that will haunt you the rest of your life. Come to terms with the fact that your spouse is no longer there. Face the ghost. As time goes on, this will get easier. Then, once you’ve done this, and are comfortable with the situation, then you can move anywhere you want with no regrets.
3. Sleep on your spouse’s side of the bed
The most difficult moment after I lost my wife was going to bed the first night I was in my house. I looked at her side of the bed, and saw she wasn’t there. This hurt pretty bad. I asked myself, “How am I going to deal with this every night?”
I tossed and turned, but finally went to sleep. Then, the next morning, the solution came to me. I was very surprised when I realized how simple it was. The solution was, Sleep on Her Side of the Bed. That night, I had a very good night’s sleep, and this was never again an issue. As crazy as this sounds, it made a tremendous difference. From this point on, I knew I was going to be all right. It didn’t make me miss her any less, but made the situation a little easier to accept.
Losing a spouse is a tragedy, and something that is not easy to handle. But if you follow these three steps, they will make a very bad situation a little easier to deal with.