PHOENIX RISING

 Information and support for widows, widowers and others who grieve over the death of a loved one.

Getting Through...    

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Some advice from those who have gotten through it or are still trying. Try any of the suggestions below.

...the First Six Months:

bulletStay in contact with friends and family (don't try to tough this out on your own).
bulletMaintain your health.
bulletJoin a bereavement group.
bulletDon't make any drastic lifestyle changes (selling the house and moving to Tahiti sounds like a good idea until you've done it).
bulletAnswer all your sympathy notes, personally, by hand, even if it takes months (it will help you more than it helps them).
bulletCreate a memorial: a gravestone, a dedicated object, a bequest - some enduring physical presence.
bulletSimplify your life.
bulletSome have found that keeping a daily journal helps. (One widower we know has filled up 12 legal size pads.) In addition to expressing your thoughts, sorrow, anger, whatever, try writing down three things you are grateful for.

...the Holidays:

bulletDon't try to do this alone. Get together with family, friends, anyone, preferably at their place, not yours. Better yet, meet somewhere totally different. The memories may be too painful if you try to reproduce what you used to do together.
bulletObserve or skip whatever traditions you want, but memorialize your loved one in some way, even if you just light a candle.
bulletReward yourself afterwards - you made it!
bulletStart a new tradition for yourself and your family/friends.
bulletRent funny movies.
bulletBuy yourself a nice gift - something you always wanted but didn't want to splurge on (but don't go overboard).

...Depression:

bulletStay busy. Find your passion and indulge it.
bulletSeek out support of family and good friends.
bulletIf you find that you're losing the battle, see your doctor - there have been some significant medical advances in treating depression.

...Guilt:

bulletKnown as "survivor guilt" (Why am I alive and he's not?) This is very common and very self-destructive.
bulletLet it go. If you had left her a widow, would you have wanted her to feel guilty?
bulletGive yourself permission to release the feeling of guilt.

...Bad memories:

bulletThese become intertwined with guilt (I could have been nicer, more generous, less complaining about the small stuff)
bulletEvery long term relationship has good and bad times. (Josephine thought Napoleon was away too much.) With an ongoing relationship, the disagreements, misunderstandings, and petty peeves can always be worked on. After death they can't. The memories of those bad times can live forever.
bulletLet them go.
bulletRemember the good times. They are infinitely more important.
 
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