The Psychological Struggles of Widowhood

Can you believe that there are more than 15 million widows and widowers in America?

When people get married, they promise to be together for the rest of their lives. The devastating reality is that “til death do us part” often doesn’t happen at the same time for both spouses. 

Being a widow comes with many challenges. Learning about some issues to expect can help bring a sense of peace. Read on if you’re interested in understanding some of the struggles of widowhood.

Missing Your Spouse

Coping with pain is one of the most difficult aspects of widowhood. If you married your best friend and you were fortunate enough to spend many years together, it can be shocking how much you miss them all the time.

If you shared a home, then you’ll be surrounded by their things, and your memories and still even be able to hear them, which will make you think about them often. The daily conversations that you once had will no longer be there. Take time to journal the thoughts in your head to help you process your daily needs. 

There is no missing like missing someone who has passed away. Be patient with yourself and know that the missing softens as time passes, though you will always feel a sense of missing your loved one. 

psychological widowhood

Feeling Isolated

When it comes to psychological struggles, widows tend to face immense loneliness. Even if they have friends and family members around to support them, they may not be able to fully understand your pain if they’ve never lost their life partner. These people also will not replace the relationship that you had, so allow yourself grace for the feeling of loneliness. 

Once the funeral has taken place and life has moved on for others, people will start to return to their normal lives and leave the widow feeling even more isolated. Try to plan ahead for getting the support you may need. Go stay at a friend’s house for a week or two. If you find yourself a newly single parent, ask your parents or close friends to come and stay with you on the weekends to give you company and a break. 

Adopting a New Routine

Lots of life partners get great joy out of doing as many things together as possible. If your routine was linked to your partner in a close way, then you’ll have to adjust to create a new routine. This is a great opportunity to try new things and visit new places. It may be extremely painful to visit the places that you once went to together, try it anyway. If it causes too much heartbreak, then give it some time before you try again. 

This can almost feel like betraying your spouse if you’re worried about moving on without them. However, you are not betraying your spouse. You can make new memories and even enjoy the places you once shared with your love. 

Painful Physical and Emotional Symptoms

It’s normal for widows to experience mental health issues like depression and anxiety. The heartbreak may be powerful enough to create physical symptoms like chronic pain, decreased energy, and digestive issues. The entire body responds to the loss of a spouse. Give yourself the time to rest, eat well and make sure that you are staying hydrated. These 3 elements will help your body and mind heal along with your heart.  

Some widows may not be able to sleep well either, which weakens their immune systems and overall well-being. Sleeping is very important for the body. If you are having a hard time sleeping, try drinking tart cherry juice*, taking melatonin or valerian*, and meditating or praying before bed for holistic approaches to helping you sleep. 

*Do not take these if you have an allergy or negative reaction to them*

Tips for Widows

Surviving widowhood can seem impossible at times, but there are so many effective ways to cope with this tragedy. Connecting with other widows can help you combat loneliness and feel like you’re around people who understand your grief.

Focusing on self-care is crucial for maintaining your physical and mental health. Do your best to eat nutritious foods, move your body every day, get plenty of sleep, and do activities that you enjoy. Many widows advise others to stay busy so they aren’t tempted to grieve in unhelpful ways. 

Grief counseling is very helpful. There are grief support groups that may be close to your area. Talk with others who can relate and understand the complexities of widowhood.

These Are the Challenges of Being a Widow

Being a widow isn’t easy, but it is possible to thrive and continue having a meaningful life after suffering the loss of a spouse. Now that you’ve learned more about the effects of being a widow and how you can heal, you can get ready to look after yourself better.

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