There are few situations in life that are more distressing and emotionally fracturing as the death of a spouse. And in most cases, it takes months or years for there to be any sort of comfort or closure. But the more intentional you are about managing the aftermath, the more likely it is that you’ll find emotional healing.
6 Tips to Help You Discover Emotional Healing
There’s no playbook for handling the death of a spouse. Every situation is different and there is a conglomerate proprietary of factors involved. But when it comes to speeding up the process of emotional healing and recovery, there are a few tangible actions you can take. Let’s explore a few of the top recommendations:
1. Go Easy on Yourself
Nobody can tell you how to feel after the death of a spouse. Grief is such an intimate and personal thing. How you feel will be highly dependent on factors like how long you were married, how your spouse died, how healthy your relationship was, what sort of support system you have in place, and even financial factors.
It’s important that you go easy on yourself. Embrace the emotions you feel and don’t pass judgment on yourself. It’s okay to be angry, regretful, embarrassed, hurt, anxious, shocked, or numb. You might cry for weeks, or you might not cry at all. This is not the time to try and suppress certain emotions. There will be plenty of chances to pursue healing down the road.
2. Love Yourself
If there were ever a time when it’s okay to be selfish, now would be the time. You have every right (and expectation) to love yourself. It’s okay to sleep in, watch movies, pamper yourself, etc. These are actually positive signs that you’re caring for your needs and not succumbing to perceived outside pressures and expectations.
3. Stand Up for Yourself
One shocking realization is that some people will try to take advantage of you in your vulnerable state. And while you may be tempted to wave the white flag and retreat, it’s important to muster up the strength required to fight back.
Life insurance is one perfect example of this. There are lots of life companies that will try to deny or delay life insurance claims on your late spouse – even when money is rightfully owed to you. If you roll over or take the first no for an answer, you’ll get cheated out of thousands (or millions) of dollars. If you hire an attorney, however, you can increase your chances of getting what’s rightfully yours.
4. Take Care of Your Physical Health
Your physical health and mental health are closely linked. Make sure you’re taking care of your body, which will in turn strengthen your mental health and aid in the recovery process.
Taking care of your physical health looks like eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep. If you do these three things, you’ll look and feel better sooner.
5. Find Support
Grieving the death of a spouse isn’t something you should do on your own. It’s important that you find community in the people around you. This includes friends and family, but may also involve a therapist, a grief counseling group, and/or a religious community who can provide encouragement in your faith.
It’s also wise to see your doctor and/or primary healthcare provider in the weeks after the death of your spouse. They can help you manage the physical side of your health and/or direct you to a mental health specialist who can provide additional care.
6. Prepare for the Future
At some point, it becomes necessary to shift your primary focus forward. This is especially important if you still have decades of expected life ahead. And while there’s a tendency to feel guilty about forging a life without your spouse, it’s a necessary step in the right direction.
Find Freedom in Spite of Loss
Finding emotional freedom doesn’t mean forgetting about your spouse or no longer feeling pain. It simply means coming to terms with your new life and finding hope in the midst of grief and frustration.