Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” And in essence, this is exactly what you will have to do when coping after the loss of your spouse. You don’t need anyone to tell you the loss you feel and the sadness you’re experiencing — you already know. What you need to know, and to focus on, is that it does get better.
An important bit of advice to remember is that feeling better, or at least less sad, does not mean that you love your spouse any less, or that you’re forgetting them. You don’t deserve to wallow in sadness; Celebrate their memory. They live on in the stories you share and the happiness you experience. And to deny yourself those sweet moments of remembrance and joy does your spouse injustice.
Whether or not you’re a religious person, finding or practicing your religion is a good way to help cope with your loss. Being able to picture your spouse waiting for you either in the afterlife or the next life can bring a feeling a peace to you. Even if you have no religious beliefs, this can ease your pain.Other enjoyments some folks may have is gardening, group therapy or shopping.
Being able to reach out to family and friends is a staple in coping with great losses. Experiencing deep depressions after losing your spouse is normal. Medication and therapy sometimes aren’t enough, nor are they always someone’s first choice. If you feel that family, friends, therapy and medication aren’t enough, seek out a support group.
There are many great, free support groups that offer both online and in-person meetings. These groups will put you in touch with people who know exactly what you’re going through, who can help guide you back to a normal life.
Oftentimes people who have lost their spouse are devastated to the point that, for a time, they can’t take care of basic chores. It’s hard to get out of bed or to find a reason that makes it worth cleaning the house. You cannot count on friends and family to continue to help you out with the chores, and you’re doing a disservice to yourself not to try.
Getting back into the swing of things is very difficult, but making a daily checklist is an easy way to give yourself small, achievable goals that you can add to later.
Start out with the very basics (‘wake up at x’, ‘brush teeth’, ‘shower’, ‘do dishes’), and as you feel you can do more and as you reach more of these goals, you can add more (‘check the mail, go for a short walk).
Lastly, start an exercise program. Making sure you stay active can help alleviate depression. If you have a patio or backyard, it’s good to exercise outside, where you can soak up some sun and raise your spirits. The combination can do wonders for your mental health, allowing you to cope more effectively.
Whether you choose to cope after the death of your spouse or not, you’ll always remember them. How their memory lives on is up to you.
Originally published at medium.com