How do I nurture my emotional well-being after the loss of a spouse?

Losing a person you shared formal vows with is one of life’s most challenging experiences. The death of a spouse is harsh because they are not only a life partner and source of companionship, but they offer emotional support. The many years spent together breed familiarity, so a spouse’s sudden absence can leave a profound void, causing feelings of loneliness and grief. It’s normal to feel emotional turmoil which can be very overwhelming. 

If you’re in this situation, take comfort knowing you’re not alone. Widows and widowers share the common experience of finding it difficult to adjust to a new way of life after losing a spouse. But remember, while there is no easy fix for healing a broken heart, there are steps you can take to nurture your well-being. It’s not impossible to gradually find peace, regain your emotional strength, and establish a new normal after the loss. Let’s explore some helpful strategies to guide you on this healing journey.


Acknowledge and Express Your Emotions

Some describe losing a spouse as the end of the world. Since many married couples share years, it’s common to feel denial. Hence, one of the primary steps toward nurturing your well-being is acknowledging your emotions and finding ways to release them. Grieve and process the range of feelings that arise, such as sadness, anger, guilt, and loneliness. 

As cliche as it may sound, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. So never compare your journey with another. Everyone’s path to healing is unique, so go at your own pace. But it would be helpful to find healthy outlets to cope, such as:

  • Confiding in a trusted friend or family member
  • Joining a support group
  • Seeking professional help through counseling or therapy
  • Journaling to express your thoughts and feelings
  • Finding a creative outlet like painting or dancing as a coping tool

Keeping turbulent emotions bottled up is not healthy at all. You are taking an essential step toward healing by allowing yourself to feel and express yourself. 


Seek Support from Loved Ones

When a spouse dies, you may feel the urge to isolate yourself because you believe no one else can truly understand the gravity of your loss. But it’s even more crucial to reach out for support during this challenging time. Surround yourself with caring family members and friends to lift you up. You need a robust support system to lean on, especially after the funeral services have died down, because your house may feel even more empty. 

People who genuinely care for you would love to provide a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. Many would jump at the chance to provide practical assistance, like doing chores. It may also be helpful to join a support group for bereaved spouses in your area or even online groups and communities because they offer understanding and empathy. 


Make Time to Take Care of Your Physical Health

Physical health is closely linked to mental wellness because of the body-mind connection. In times of grief, it’s common to neglect self-care. It’s common to hear stories of people curling up in bed for days and forgetting hygiene habits. However, even if you don’t have the energy for it, it’s essential to prioritize it. Make it a point to do the following:

  • Exercise: This releases endorphins, improves mood, and reduces stress. 
  • Groom: Make time for hygiene habits to feel good.
  • Eat healthy: A balanced diet boosts immunity with the proper nutrients.
  • Sleep: Grief can disrupt your sleep patterns, so establish a comforting bedtime routine and make your room cozy for rest. 

Initially, you may struggle to do any of these activities because you feel unmotivated. But don’t let things spiral at the expense of your overall health. If necessary, consult with a healthcare professional.


Engage in Activities That Bring You Joy

Finding joy amid grief may seem like a herculean challenge. But it’s not entirely impossible to find happiness! Engaging in activities that make you smile, even for a little while, can uplift your spirits. Pursue hobbies or interests that you enjoy, such as:

  • Painting
  • Gardening
  • Reading
  • Listening to music

Doing what you love can temporarily relieve grief while bringing a sense of fulfillment. It’s even more important to be kind to yourself when you’re down. Permit yourself to experience moments of happiness without feeling guilty. Feeling happy doesn’t diminish your love for your spouse or the depth of your grief. Letting go and finding joy are parts of the healing process. Besides, your departed loved one would not want you to wallow in misery for the rest of your life. Honor them by living well and keeping their memory in your heart. 


Consider Creating a New Narrative for Yourself

As you navigate the path of healing, it wouldn’t hurt to consider creating a new narrative for yourself. While your spouse’s absence will always be felt, it’s important to cultivate your sense of purpose after the loss. Reflect on your goals, aspirations, and passions. Then, set new intentions for yourself now that you’re by your lonesome. It’s crucial to do this so you can wake up excited to face a new day. 

You don’t have to make big gestures to fulfill your goals. Take small steps and have your sweet time. In this new stage of life, rediscovering who you are and what you want from life. Consider this time an opportunity for personal growth. Don’t feel afraid to embrace the possibility of finding new meaning and happiness with the memory of your spouse as a source of inspiration.