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Dr. Therese Rando

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David Kessler

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Helen Fitzgerald

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Surviving the loss of a spouse


My husband died suddenly just over 2 years ago. There are times when I just want to crawl in bed and shut the world out for awhile. Sometimes I let myself indulge in that, but I know I cannot allow myself to do so all the time -there is too much to be done.

Taking on the responsibilities of life that 2 people used to do is very overwhelming, especially when you're engulfed in the emotional backlash a sudden death leaves in your life and in your heart. In the short term you take things day-by-day, hour-by-hour, sometimes minute-by-minute. You tell yourself, "I made it through that day successfully, tomorrow I'll tackle tomorrow."

Share the workload. When friends and family ask how they can help you, don't be afraid to take them up on their offers. Whether it's helping with the laundry, running to the store, or taking the kids to the park for playtime so you can have one hour to have a good cry - lean on your support system. It's so much harder to deal with the pain on your own, and they'll feel better if they feel they were able to help you. They feel helpless when they can't do something, even something that seems small, to help you during this time of transition.

People always say the first year is the hardest, and it is, but that doesn't make the second year easy by any stretch of the imagination. Your grief will sometimes explode when you least expect it, the pain will be as fresh as the day that your spouse died, and then you'll have good days where you aren't missing them every second that you are awake, that you find yourself laughing and smiling at things again when you never thought you could.

Life after the death of a spouse is a hard one, but find the joy and happiness that is available in your "New Normal". It's there, even if you can't see it at first. Your spouse wouldn't want you to wallow in your grief forever. Grief when you need to, but don't be afraid to keep living your life because they are gone. They wouldn't want that either.

Widowed since 2006 - and still hanging in there, day-by-day.

Shared by katiyana on 11/7/08

Your posting was a great source of strength just now. My husband passed away 9 months ago and I am still waiting for the new normal to take over. I still cannot get motivated to clean house, come out of my own world (except for family),or seem to get enough sleep. I was so relieved to see a posting from someone that understands it takes longer than a few months to get over the loss of a spouse. Does anyone know at what point professional counseling should be looked into for this state of exhaustion and seclusion?


I love what you say about finding joy in your new normal. I feel like that often. And you're so right about opening up to friends and letting people help. Having a group of supportive people you can lean on is so important.

I am, of course, sorry for your loss. I lost my dad seven years ago and the pain isn't much less now, but I've trained myself to quickly switch to a happy memory of him (something funny he would say or do) and my heart fills with happiness and I feel much better.