10 Bereavement Tips
These are very similar to those who are overcoming the effects of divorce, except that there is more to be said in favor of widows uniting against the world than there is for divorced people seeking each other's company.
- Don't suddenly feel you have all your departed spouse's responsibilities upon your shoulders. You can't do everything, and certainly you can't do everything at once. Use professional advisors: accountants, solicitors, etc.
- Clubs may be helpful. Some bereavement organizations may sound dreary, but they do serve a useful purpose for the more elderly widow or widower.
- Remember that the various stages of grief are universal. You are not alone and, sooner or later, everyone experiences them. The different stages vary in intensity but the time at which people move from one stage to another differs.
- If irretrievably stuck in one phase (sometimes blame or anger but more often depression), talk to your doctor. Treatment is available, but it is a difficult decision to separate normal sadness from abnormal depression.
- Some find grief counsellors useful. They encourage people to admit anxieties, worries, regrets and guilt. Most of these sentiments are unfounded and exaggerated, but they represent true concerns - and therefore stress factors.
- Create a structure for your life. Get up, clean the house, do the shopping, the laundry, have regular visits. Eat out, however cheaply, and continue to go to the theatre or cinema and carry on with your interests and charity work.
- Don't allow yourself to look scruffy. Take the same pride in your appearance as you did when your spouse was alive. 'Widow's weeds', as they were known, are described in the dictionary as being an archaic term, but the paucity of pensions is giving it a new reality.
- Remember that it is very often more difficult to entertain a single person than a married couple. If the invitations fall off, it is not a personal slight; rather it is an example, however unfeeling, of a social truth.
- Don't make any immediate decisions about moving. Everybody is sad or depressed after a death. Let the mood settle before doing any more than discussing future changes. Never make important decisions when feeling depressed.
- If you do move, balance the advantages of being near sons, daughters or siblings against the disadvantages of moving away from old friends and familiar, hallowed surroundings. Remember that children are forever being posted to other parts of the world. It is easy to end up in a new district knowing no one.
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