When you lose a husband, wife or partner, it’s painful for anybody but it can be even more so when you’re older. Not only will the love, memories and experiences have been built up over many years, you’re likely to feel more vulnerable and less able to cope and move on than if you were younger.
Feelings of depression and anxiety may more readily come to the fore and you’re more likely to recall other loved ones and friends that you’ve also lost along the way. Furthermore, you may not have the same kind of close-knit support from family members and friends as you might have experienced when your family was all living at home.
The Effects of Bereavement of a Spouse
Many of the feelings of bereavement will be similarly experienced by people of all ages who have lost their loved one. In the elderly, however, these feeling are likely to be far more intense. In many cases, your partner may have been the sole source of interpersonal intimacy and conversation so you’re more likely to feel a far greater intensity of loneliness, fear and isolation. Your grief can last much longer than the norm and some who lose their partners later in life never truly get over it. If left unchecked, you can go into a deep spiral of depression quite quickly, start neglecting your hygiene and eating which can lead to your physical and mental deterioration. However, with the right attitude and some support, coping with the bereavement of a spouse later in life doesn’t have to mean the end of your life too.
Ways of Coping
There is certainly a lot of positive action you can take if you lose your spouse when you’re elderly. Ultimately, however, it’s going to be your positive attitude and your staunch belief that life still has plenty to offer that will determine how well and quickly you get over the loss of your loved one. You should plan to re-adjust as early as possible once you’ve got over the initial shock and grief of your loss. Try to get back into your everyday routine as soon as possible.
Talking to family, friends and neighbours will help you to come to terms with what’s happened and it’s also an opportunity to re-establish close friendships from the past. Be open and willing to participate in any social gatherings or activities to which you’re invited and be proactive too and seek out hobbies and new activity groups you can join. Perhaps, you’ve just not had the time to take up something you’ve always been passionate about but never got round to doing anything about it. Now would be the perfect time and would boost your confidence too. And, if you already had hobbies or pastimes that you once pursued as a couple, make sure you continue with those.
You’re likely to have made many friends who will all want to see you get back to your usual self as quickly as possible. Not only will they be able to provide you with support but, by not returning, you’ll be isolating yourself even more which will only damage your health. Another useful way for some people to cope with their loss is to join some kind of charitable or voluntary venture. Many people who have found it hard to come to terms with the loss of a loved one have often said that by helping others less fortunate than themselves, it has made them realise how lucky they are and has prevented them from brooding at home and isolating themselves from the world.
Bereavement, especially later in life, is never going to be an easy obstacle to deal with, but if you see it as simply a hurdle in life that must be overcome, you’ll soon see how life will become brighter again for you, sooner rather than later.