Losing a partner to bereavement is not something you are likely to come to terms with quickly. Learning to live as a widow will take courage and practice. In time you will be getting on with your life not as a widow but as a single woman.
Surprisingly, if you’re left with children and a demanding job it is possible that you’ll find your feet rather more quickly than if you are home alone and not busy. Children, especially, are a huge driving force to move you on and your mind will be on their wellbeing much more than yours.
This is not an excuse to ignore your needs, physically or mentally, but it does mean that each morning is kick-started with a ‘raison d’etre’ that cannot be ignored.
The more your thoughts are occupied with the need to carry on for the sake of your children/job/day to day responsibilities, the better it will be for you.
In time you will hopefully have settled into a routine and feel that you’re on top of things. There will be days that are more challenging than others, when you feel you can’t or don’t want to carry on, but by being busy and involved your recovery, such as it is, will surely come.
At some point in time you may even want to start dating again. This is nothing to feel guilty about and initially, is something you can ponder on your own. When you think the time is right then talk to friends, especially if they are also single, and explore what possibilities are out there for you.
It could be that one of your friends will know someone who could well be an interesting proposition for you. There are, of course, numerous classes, sports clubs and meet-up groups that you can investigate. You may even want to explore the possibilities presented by online dating.
If you do feel ready to date again, don’t leave it too long before you look for that special someone . Life is too short to sit about wondering if you’re doing the right thing. Dating should be fun and getting to know someone in the early stages can be very exciting and the outcome can be a revelation.
Immediately following the death of a partner nothing you do or feel will seem normal. Every step you take will be out of the ordinary and your sense of loss will be painful and alienating.
Conversely, you may have moments of relief, especially if your partner has been ill and suffering and this could bring about a sense of guilt. The feeling that we could or should have done more for our partner is also a common sentiment. All of these feelings are new to you and will inevitably bring about despair and remorse. At this time you must go with the ebb and flow of emotions until such a time as you recognize them and know that you will overcome the moment.
Almost immediately there are key days and dates that follow: the early reminders, of course, like the day your partner died and the day of the funeral. These days are the ones you recall frequently because they are the most recent. They also bring you together with your partner, in a visceral sense. The heartache at these moments is welcome because it allows you the luxury of tears and reflection.
Life goes on and for practical reasons you bury your heartache in a place where it is increasingly under control. Hopefully, you will gradually allow yourself the comfort of celebrating these anniversaries in some way. Visiting his/her memorial and leaving flowers is, of course, something that you can do. A moment of quiet reflection at this time can work wonders. You are allowed the tears, but hopefully, by now, you are able to resurrect moments of joy and amusement that were shared with your partner.
A significant anniversary, such as a birthday, can be celebrated by indulging in something that you would have planned to do on this day. You could go with your family to a favorite restaurant that you both liked. Maybe watch a football game or go to the theatre. Something that you would have enjoyed together is the idea.
Probably the most difficult will be the anniversary of your wedding, or the day you moved in together. This is a good opportunity to involve friends and family and is, after all, a special day that you want to remember with warmth and happiness. A small gathering for you and those closest to you is a good way to do this and will encourage everyone to talk about your partner and how they are coping with their loss and moving on.
Mothers or Fathers Day can be difficult for your children whether they are young or old. Urge them to talk about the absent parent and share your thoughts as well. Seek out some golden moments that you all remember like the day he was showing off in the snow and fell off the sled or the special cake that you baked for a birthday and was unfortunately dropped on the floor.
Eventually the year will have come full circle and you will be a survivor. You will have discovered that you can live your life without that special person and that each day you are learning how to overcome the emotional hurdles you encounter. These hurdles do become less frequent and your strength and resilience will grow.