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The death of a spouse is one of the most difficult challenges many of us will have to face. Your world is turned upside down, and it’s not easy to come to grips with the many emotions that you will inevitably feel. This is especially true if you had been married to your spouse for a significant amount of time.
Nobody likes to think about it, but the reality is that the amount of time we have on this little blue globe is finite. When we are young, old age and death seem so far into the future that we don’t feel the need to worry about them. As the years pass, and we notice a new wrinkle here and a gray hair there, these realities of life come into focus.
While being lucky enough to have a spouse that you can share your life with is a blessing, it can in many ways feel like a curse should your spouse pass away before you.
When you lose your spouse, whether suddenly or at the end of a long battle with illness, you’ve lost a big part of yourself. Someone to talk about your day with, someone that you raise children with, set goals with, someone who shared your life. When you spend years married to someone, then one day they are gone, the void that is left behind can influence every part of your life.
As you mourn the loss of your spouse, you may feel grief, fear, or even numbness. Some grow angry. As the National Institute on Aging says:
Instead of getting up each day and planning what you are going to do with your spouse, you now wake up to an empty space on the bed next to you. You no longer have that special someone waiting for you when you get home. You no longer have a friend and partner that you know you can count on for anything. This can leave you feeling naked and vulnerable like you have never felt before. In fact, losing a spouse is so traumatic it’s not uncommon for people to fall into a deep depression. After all, you have just lost someone that you have come to love and depend on; in many ways it really is like a big part of yourself was taken away when your spouse passed away.
Many people who have lost a spouse eventually find it difficult to be happy without feeling guilty. Finding happiness again is about finding ways to enjoy life. It means spending time doing the things that you enjoy doing: spending time with family and friends, pursuing hobbies, traveling, and doing anything that you are passionate about.
What about finding love again? While that may be the last thing on your mind right now, and the last thing you expect to happen, one day you may find someone that you enjoy spending time with. Maybe the time you spend together will blossom into something more, perhaps a new love to share your life with. Many people who unexpectedly find themselves falling in love after losing their spouse are haunted by feelings of guilt and betrayal.
There is no reason to feel guilt over being happy again. Your deceased spouse would never want you to spend the rest of your days alone and depressed. Grieve, remember, but ultimately to find a way to move on and make the most of the rest of your life.