You may have been either widowed or divorced or may wish to share this article with a friend who has been. There are lots of similarities yet also vast differences in grieving and healing from the death or divorce of a spouse. A number of people have asked me which is worse and which is harder to get over. This is not a contest. Each person's grief and healing is similar yet different. No two people deal with these events in exactly the same way.
Time alone does not heal. I am certain you have met people who are bitter over an event that happened many years ago. On average it takes about two years to be able to successfully move on from the death or divorce of a spouse. Elisabeth Kubler Ross wrote the classic book, On Death and Dying. She describes five stage of grief as: Denial, Sadness, Anger, Bargaining and Acceptance. I would in fact add several more and would like to note that these stages do not come nice and orderly. You may find yourself feeling all these things at the same time or you may find yourself jumping back and forth from one feeling to another. These stages are similar yet different for the individual dealing with the death or divorce of a spouse. Dealing with ALL your feelings, not stuffing them down and pretending they do not exist, is an important part of the healing process. Healing takes effort on your part. It takes actively going through the unfair process to once again open your heart. It is worth the effort.
You may find it hard to ask for help. You do not have to deal with this alone. Books and articles may be helpful. The real healing comes in your willingness to be with other people even though you may not feel like it. You may feel lonely and isolated and not like reaching out to others for help. Making connections with other people who can help you is vital to the healing process.
o Talk to a friend who is a good listener. Ask your friend to just listen and NOT give advice.
o Join a support group. A Divorce Recovery Group or a Grief Support Group for those who have lost a spouse or other loved one through death.
o As you become more comfortable going out you may with to join a singles program or an activity that you have enjoyed in the past or try a new activity or take a class. You may also wish to reach out to others by volunteering.
o If you feel stuck in your grieving or healing you might wish to seek the help of an objective person such as a therapist who can help you sort out what is happening in your life. This is something I do in my private practice as a therapist.
o Be gentle on yourself. You have suffered a major traumatic life changing event. Healing is a long process. Give yourself time.
Healing allows you to be able to open your heart to others. This tragic event does not have to be the clearing event of your life. For now it's OK to grieve.