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Adjusting to Life Without Your Partner

We often refer to our husbands and wives as our "better half," as if without them in our lives, we would be incomplete. Perhaps it is this concept that makes the loss of a spouse one of life's most traumatic events.

After the passing of a spouse, it is very likely you will go into shock and denial. Many have expressed a feeling of numbness, as if they were a spectator watching the events of their lives unfold from the outside. This is nature's way of protecting you from what is happening while your life undergoes a great transition. It is not unusual to experience nausea, dizziness and weight loss, in addition to difficulty sleeping. You may become irritable or listless and feel fatigued or short of breath. Although it can be painful at times, the grieving process is necessary in order to heal. Grieving takes time; it is a process, not an event.

Bear in mind that everyone grieves on their own timeline. Deciding what to do with your spouse's belongings after their death can be an incredibly difficult and emotionally taxing task. While some may advise to do this as quickly as possible, again, it is important to remember that grieving is an extremely personal process. You will likely know when the time is right for you.

Moving on is a very difficult process, but eventually the grief will lessen and you will adjust to a new way of life. Losing a spouse and the grief that follows can often serve as a catalyst for personal growth. Coping with this loss can open new friendships, support groups and resources for emotional healing. Many people find a new purpose in life and new goals as a result of shifting the focus toward their own healing.

As life returns to normal, the possibility of love may reemerge. A reluctance to carry on with this aspect of life is common, as we may feel that no one can ever replace those we have lost. Someone we have shared so much of ourselves with, in truth, can never be replaced; they will forever remain a part of us. There should be no feelings of guilt attached to new relationships. In fact, many agree the best way to honor a loved one who died, is to live a life full of friendship and new love.

Many bereaved spouses find adjusting to life without a partner becomes easier if they talk to others in the same situation. Both Hospice of Emanuel (Turlock) and Community Hospice (Modesto) offer free loss of spouse support groups and counseling. These resources are excellent opportunities for a husband or wife grieving the loss of their loved one to move onward in the understanding company of others.