Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Grieving Through The Death Of A Spouse


Vivid dreams involving the deceased are common occurrences in the early phases of the grieving process. You may also experience the feeling at various times that you are hearing or seeing the deceased - yet at the same time you realize that this is not actually so. These experiences can be very frightening and may cause you to ponder as to whether you are losing your mind. Be assured that these are normal occurrences and will diminish with time.


Guilt feelings almost always accompany the loss of a loved one. In your bereavement you may feel guilt for all the things left unsaid or undone as you realize it is now too late to complete all that "unfinished" business between the deceased and you. You may be haunted with thoughts such as "Would my loved one still be living if I had only called the doctor sooner?", or "Why wasn't I a little more demonstrative of my affection?". If the death followed a prolonged illness, you may have felt a sense of relief at the time only to have these feelings later give way to feelings of shame and guilt. As the survivor you may feel guilty merely because you survive. It is also fairly common to experience some feelings of anger following a death of your loved one. You may subconsciously feel anger that the deceased has "deserted" you and caused you to suffer this terrible loneliness. Or you may experience some feeling of anger because of all the added responsibilities that have suddenly been heaped upon your shoulders. Since you may be unaware of the source of this anger, there is generally only a subtle expression of these feelings. Frequently this subtle expression of anger will be directed towards others, especially towards the doctor and nurses who were caring for the deceased at the time of death. You may feel that the medical personnel did not do all that they might have done to have prevented the death. You may even find yourself questioning how a merciful and loving God could have allowed your loved one to die when your need for the deceased is so great. Then you may even feel more guilt for having had these feelings of doubt and anger. Feelings of guilt and anger are normal reactions following the death of a loved one and these feelings will gradually subside.


If the death has been that of your spouse, you will suffer not only over the loss of your loved one, but also over the depletion of yourself. Your world has suddenly changed and you will fear the unknown as well as the loss of emotional security. You will now have to reorganize your life and adjust to a myriad of changes which will virtually amount to a new life style. The multiple changes which will have to be made by necessity and not by choice may cause you much anxiety. An additional burden to be borne is that of an identity adjustment. When your identity has been closely linked to that of your spouse, it is difficult to think in terms of yourself apart from your deceased spouse. It takes time to adjust to the change from "We" to the "I" status. There will be feelings of rootlessness as you make that emotional transition to your newly imposed single status.


Each person responds at a different pace in the bereavement process. Your entire grieving may be completed within three to six months, while it may take as long as a year or more. The factors which influence the length of time for the resolution of your loss will depend upon the intensity of your relationship with the loved one; the suddenness of the death (some of the grieving process may have been initiated and partially completed prior to the death if the death was of a slow, insidious nature); your ability to express your grief rather than trying to avoid facing and coping with the loss; and finally your personal philosophy of life and death.

With the passing of time there will be a gradual severing of the bereaved's thoughts and emotional ties. As you loosen your hold upon the past, you will become more aware of the happenings in your immediate environment. Gradually you will not only renew your interest in those former relationships and activities which once afforded you pleasure but you may become involved in new and additional relationships and activities to fill that void produced by the loss of your loved one. You will then be able to make plans for the future. You will have come to the place where you can pick up the pieces and go on. The wound will heal though the scar remains. The resolution of the loss of your loved one does not imply that you will no longer think of the deceased... rather it implies that you will have come to terms with and accepted your loss. It is a fulfillment of the Scripture which states - "A time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance." The time of weeping and mourning will be over. As you emerge from your bereavement you may discover that you are a stronger person than you were prior to the death of your loved one. You will quite likely have gained a deeper faith, along with increased sensitivity, and greater understanding and compassion for others.

next page
return to index