When your spouse dies

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When your partner dies, it feels as though your whole world has crumbled. Coming home to an empty house may be one of the hardest things to handle for a grieving spouse.

Initially, numbness sets in as if you are living in a foreign country and no one speaks your language.

You feel out of control or that you are having a nightmare from which you cannot awake.

You wander around as if asleep, and yet overwhelming sadness brings you back to reality.

Your loved one is gone, and you feel incomplete and vulnerable.

There is no one to motivate you to get up in the morning or to convince you to go to sleep at night.

In fact, you cannot face going to bed alone at all. This is part of the normal grieving process.

Losing your partner is, in a way, losing part of yourself.

You have relied on each other, have been intimate with each other, and would have supported each other over the years through thick and thin.

Now when you need your partner the most you are alone.

Everything you have built together seems meaningless and empty.

You wonder what it is all for if there is no one to share it with.

It doesn’t matter if you were together several months or 70 years, a cherished part of life has been taken.

It almost seems impossible to be part of the world without the one you love.

The world becomes a silent and cold abyss when you experience the death of a spouse.

For many, a spouse is more than just a spouse. They are one’s best friend and companion.

It is imperative to remember that no one in the world had what you and your spouse had.

You must remember that your lives together meant more than any words would describe and when a loss like this occurs it is very natural to feel off-centre.

In many cultures and traditions around the world, there are health outlets to deal with the loss of a partner.

Societies usually recognise the need for emotionally supporting the surviving spouse in various ways which can last weeks, even months after the death.

In most countries these days, losing a spouse becomes a cut and dried business.

A widow or widower has to immediately begin to fill out form after form as if she or he were moving stock.

There is no real time-out for the spouse to grieve.

A person has to tidy up affairs with the bank, the hospital, the doctor, the funeral parlour and the social security office.

Everything must be back to business as usual within a few short days of all the turmoil one faces at such a time, a surviving spouse needs to find someone who can be his or her pillar of strength.

This could be a best friend, a family member, or even someone in a grief support group.

I believe, it is of vital importance to have a support system to help one bear the grief.

The support person is there to help you, so you do not have to go through it alone, someone with whom you can talk about the death, and discuss the funeral arrangements, and help you with the paperwork.

Another essential part of having a support person is to keep the grieving person in balance.

The after-effect of death can alter someone’s lifestyle and daily routine dramatically.

Daily tasks and simple everyday chores such as doing laundry, buying groceries and preparing meals, driving a car, and paying bills are often overwhelming for a surviving spouse, especially when one was dependent on the other.

The once common acts of eating a meal or going to sleep create untold sadness and agony for many.

Fear, loneliness, feeling sick, insomnia, worry and exhaustion have taken the place of a familiar mate.

Some grieving spouses are thrown into an emotional tailspin, and any number of reactions can rise to the surface.

It is important that one be aware of certain danger signals, such as thoughts of suicide.

Other feelings of isolation and despair may also need therapeutic attention.

I often meet widows and widowers who find it difficult to ask someone for help.

They see it as a form of weakness, and some won’t do it. This is especially true as people get on in years and have become set in their ways.

For them, asking for help is like admitting dependency or giving up control.

But seeking assistance from someone can be amazingly helpful.

Facing the loss of a spouse or partner is enough of an emotional strain to bear. Adding everyday stresses on top of it only prolongs the suffering.

I know it can be difficult to let someone new into your life after the one you love is gone. After all, how can you explain to anyone the bond you shared with your partner?

But please don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are people just waiting to assist you.

Chomi Makina is the president of the Zimbabwe Association of Funeral Assurers and group chief executive officer for Moonlight and Mashfords and can be contacted on clmakina@yahoo.com

For further Grief Care Counseling and help contact:
Island Hospice, 6 Natal Road,
Belgravia
Harare
Zimbabwe
Tel: 00263 4 701674, 791605-6
Email: islandhospice.org

Grief Share Sessions are held every Tuesday at 17:30pm at
Celebration Centre
162 Swan Drive,
Borrowdale West,
Harare
Zimbabwe
Tel: 00263 4 850881-9
Email: info@celebrate.org
Website: www.celebrate.org

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