Life After Losing Your Spouse

Life After Losing Your Spouse


The death of a spouse is one of the most difficult challenges many of us will have to face. Your world is turned upside down, and it’s not easy to come to grips with the many emotions that you will inevitably feel. This is especially true if you had been married to your spouse for a significant amount of time.

Nobody likes to think about it, but the reality is that the amount of time we have on this little blue globe is finite. When we are young, old age and death seem so far into the future that we don’t feel the need to worry about them.  As the years pass, and we notice a new wrinkle here and a gray hair there, these realities of life come into focus.

While being lucky enough to have a spouse that you can share your life with is a blessing, it can in many ways feel like a curse should your spouse pass away before you.

We’re writing about this difficult, often uncomfortable topic to help widows/widowers understand the emotions that they are feeling, to offer guidance on how to deal with these emotions and other new realities in the wake of a spouse’s death, and most importantly to provide a little support.

Losing Your Spouse Often Feels Like You’ve Lost A Part Of Yourself

When you lose your spouse, whether suddenly or at the end of a long battle with illness, you’ve lost a big part of yourself.  Someone to talk about your day with, someone that you raise children with, set goals with, someone who shared your life.  When you spend years married to someone, then one day they are gone, the void that is left behind can influence every part of your life.

As you mourn the loss of your spouse, you may feel grief, fear, or even numbness. Some grow angry. As the National Institute on Aging says:

All of these feelings are normal. There are no rules about how you should feel. There is no right or wrong way to mourn.

Common Symptoms of Grief

  1. Difficulty sleeping
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Trouble concentrating
  4. Indecisiveness

Instead of getting up each day and planning what you are going to do with your spouse, you now wake up to an empty space on the bed next to you.  You no longer have that special someone waiting for you when you get home.  You no longer have a friend and partner that you know you can count on for anything.  This can leave you feeling naked and vulnerable like you have never felt before.  In fact, losing a spouse is so traumatic it’s not uncommon for people to fall into a deep depression.  After all, you have just lost someone that you have come to love and depend on; in many ways it really is like a big part of yourself was taken away when your spouse passed away.

Life Goes On

Moving on from emotional trauma is challenging.  In fact, right after you have lost your spouse it can seem as if your whole world has come crashing down; now you have to find a way to pick up the pieces.  You may wonder if it’s even worth trying, and you may feel like there’s no way you can ever recover.

As difficult as it may seem now, it is possible to move on.  In fact, it’s not just possible, it’s something you have to do.  Your life is going to change, and you will always miss your spouse, but you have other people in your life that love you and count on you. Your friends, family, and even people in your life that you may not expect want you to make it through this and get onto the path to recovering from your grief. They are there for you if you need them.


Remember Your Children


If you and your spouse were parents, then you should seek comfort in the arms of your children, for your sake as well as their sake. For a child, losing a parent at any age is a life-changing event. It can impact your children just as much as it has impacted you. Because of this, your children need you when your spouse passes away. You can fill the void left by your spouse’s death by helping your children to cope, which will, in turn, help you to cope with your loss by giving you focus and purpose.


A Few Other Things You Can Do

Care for Yourself

It’s easy to neglect your health when dealing while mourning. Some exacerbate the problem by turning to excessive drinking and smoking. Exercise, eating right, and getting plenty of sleep will help you tremendously.

Support Groups

Simply talking about our problems can go a long way toward solving them. It’s very likely that your local community has support groups where you can work through your feelings and your uncertainty about the future. A few ideas to start with – local places of worship, hospitals, and even online groups. We’ve included a few online directories in our resources section to get you started.

Talk to a Professional

Once again, talking through your grief is one very effective way of coping with it. Speaking to a therapist or counselor can make all the difference.


If you are a religious person, you may find relief from your pain in your faith. Your local religious community can be a pillar of strength in these trying times.

Don't Rush Into Anything

It can be tempting to make big, life altering decisions, such as moving, in the wake of your spouse’s death as a way of moving on. However, it is better to delay these decisions until you’ve worked through your grief and can make them with a clear head.

Establish Stronger Relationships With The People In Your Life And Remain As Active As Possible

When you first lose your spouse, you will go through a period of grieving. The intensity of your grieving, and how long it lasts, will largely depend on you as a person and how close you were with your spouse. While you will certainly miss your spouse forever, there comes a point where you have to learn to move on. When you reach that moment, one of the biggest challenges you are likely to face is the huge void that has suddenly been left in your life. So how do you fill that void so that it doesn’t overwhelm you?

One solution is establishing stronger relationships with the people left in your life. This may seem like the last thing you want to do, but after taking this first step you are likely to find that spending more time with them is a source of comfort.  Your friends and those closest to you care about your well being, and they want to be there to help you move past this difficult stage in your life.  With a deceased partner, you will be missing a major part of your social life, so it’s important that you overcome that loss by spending time with others that you care about.  This will help you in the healing process, which is the only way that you can move on and keep living your life.

Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Out Professional Help

Unfortunately, there is often a stigma attached to going to a counselor or some other type of therapist. We want to assure you that doing so doesn’t mean that you are weak minded, crazy or anything like that. It means that you were able to take a hard look in the mirror and realize that you were not going to be able to get through the loss of your spouse by yourself. While spending time with friends and family is important, there’s something therapeutic about being able to speak with an objective third party who is there to listen. With a therapist, there is no judgment or personal bias involved; this is why therapy can be so effective at helping someone who has lost a spouse.

Therapy can also help you to work through unresolved issues that you may have with your spouse. It’s very common to realize that there was a lot you wish you had said and to identify unresolved issues that were still there when your spouse passed away. This can make you question yourself and prolong the grieving process. With the help of a therapist, you can talk through these issues, share the pain and loss you feel, and then find a way to move on.

Don’t Feel Guilty About Moving On

It’s okay to be happy again.

Many people who have lost a spouse eventually find it difficult to be happy without feeling guilty. Finding happiness again is about finding ways to enjoy life. It means spending time doing the things that you enjoy doing: spending time with family and friends, pursuing hobbies, traveling, and doing anything that you are passionate about.

What about finding love again? While that may be the last thing on your mind right now, and the last thing you expect to happen, one day you may find someone that you enjoy spending time with. Maybe the time you spend together will blossom into something more, perhaps a new love to share your life with. Many people who unexpectedly find themselves falling in love after losing their spouse are haunted by feelings of guilt and betrayal.

There is no reason to feel guilt over being happy again. Your deceased spouse would never want you to spend the rest of your days alone and depressed. Grieve, remember, but ultimately to find a way to move on and make the most of the rest of your life.


Mourning the Death of a Spouse, National Institute on Aging

Find Community Services, Eldercare Locator

Find a Support Group Near You, Well Spouse Association

Six Brown Chicks, 10 Realities to Embrace After Losing Your Spouse, Chicago Now

Brody Fleet, Carole, Why There Is No Such Thing As ‘Getting Over’ Your Spouse’s Death, Huffington Post