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How to Help A Friend Go Through Losing A Spouse

Updated on November 15, 2014

This is the Hardest Part of Life

Losing a beloved spouse is possibly the hardest thing to go through except losing a child before you and your spouse die. I have seen how two of my friends are coping with the drastic change and the loss and loneliness after years of marriage. Both friends had two separate issues. One, I will name Brandon, not his real name, went to sleep for an afternoon nap and had an brain aneurysm while taking a nap. The other a woman, Sandra, not her real name, had a lengthy, horrible, long-lasting illness or rather illnesses that cost her a death also in her sleep. The two people died roughly a month a part and went to church with me. The pain of the deaths cannot be accurately measured by me, but the witness to how they are coping can as I keep up with them weekly. So what do you say to someone who loses a spouse, a very-loved spouse, at any early age? Well, simply put. You cannot say anything that will actually help them in the short-term, but the concern and love for them and their children needs to be immediate, swift, and heart-felt. Just saying, :I am sorry for your loss." Is the best thing to say. However, you can do more to help.

The Immediate Need - The Funeral

What Happens Next?

Most spouses want to lock the door, cry, scream, and be left alone. They do not want to be going through this nightmare. They can never really prepare. In Brandon's case, his wife, has five children to care for, experienced the death of her mother at any early age, and is resilent with tons of friends, family and loved-ones. The children are coping well as their spiritual base is solid and the Mother is not falling apart. Her strength is amazing. I know she suffers from insominia and has had to start work part-time to help with the families expenses. But she has not changed drastically. She does not hate her plight. She handles with grace and amazement to us all through our frendship in church. I helped her by writing a long letter of all the avenues she could go through to help with the final expenses. Since she did the bills before Brandon died, she is quite the expert on handling the bills. She had someone set-up a Facebook page to the memory of Brandon that had a link to a donation site set up by a friend. All the expenses were paid through donations.

On the other hand, Sandra's death has left her husband with a gap. He is not coping well. The funeral was a celebration of her life, and she was very ill for years. Yet he could not prepare himself for what happened. He blames himself, feels guilty, and misses her more than he can admit. Sandra handled all the bills so he has no idea what is happening financially. Since Sandra was quite ill for sometime, and he was working, there have been less donations to his site, and I fear he will struggle emotionally longer than Brandon's wife, and his children will suffer more financially as he knows nothing of the finances, and he prefers not to be bothered with it.


Behind Closed Doors and Reality Is Not What You Want!

The Stages of Grief

Everyone knows the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I will share a link to the research on this. But first, everyone does through these stages in different ways, and can go back and forth between all stages within a day. The fact bought people had children that need them is actually going to help them try to get into their new life without their partner. The children are the reason they have a value in the eyes of everyone. But what of those whose spouse dies and has no children. I have seen depression last for years. One man after losing his beloved wife, said, "Please do not get near me. I cause people I care about to die." His Mother passed away the year before so he was blaming himself, which is depression, and he was still angry.

Honesty, Help, and Continued Help

So you may be thinking, what can I do for anyone who dies and leaves grieving family members. I can offer you ways to help. The first way, no matter how much courage you need to master your fears, go to the grieving spouse and tell them you are sorry for there loss, and ask them if there is anything that you can do. The children need babysitters, food needs to be brought in, cards, letters, Facebook memorial pages, donation sites like www.giveforward.com takes no money to give to memorials. You can also create a digital guestbook under www.forevermissed.com. There are many other websites that you can present to the spouse for their approval and see if you can raise money to offset the funeral expenses. Showing up the the funeral. Texting or calling the individual as much as you can without being a pest. Community awareness through posts and friend's post on their Facebook site. Food or a luncheon after the funeral for the family is essential. Although the spouse may hate going through all these people, they will get stronger as you continue to help them feel loved and not alone. None of these things help with one person, a community of people from church, work, and friendships can be made to hug a person.

No One Can Help Everyone The Same Way

The fact that there is very little scientific research on how to handle grief and speed the process of healing. Some people never get over grief of a love one. I can only imagine what these friends of mine are going through and try with all my heart to not forget them, especially the first year. Remembering those you love is part of life. Remembering them in a healthy positive way where you continue to maintain your balance mentally, is challenging. The may be a need for anti-depressants and therapy to assist in the process of healing from the death of a loved-one. If the person threatens to kill themselves, do not take this likely. If possible, assist them in getting professional help. Never ever treat a suicide threat unlikely.

Video by Psychiatrist on Grief

Summary of Thoughts

Never be afraid to approach someone who has lossed a loved one, especially a spouse. They may not seem to like it, but it is better to know someone cares than to live them alone. Set up a digital guestbook for friends to write, a Facebook Memorial Page (which costs money), and a donation site for funds to be deposited and all money goes to the spouse. Visit with them every week, then month, then when you feel the need. If you recognize deep depression, counsel and advise the spouse that maybe therapy and medication could help them with this loss. Never give up on a friend who is in this situation. With the whole community reaching out in love, this spouse will be grateful. Realize that people suffer alone. Give them privacy, but also give them love. Try to bring over a dinner. Ask them to join you for a movie. Babysit the children. Establish a firm commitment to be compassionate towards people who need the love of others as the spouse was that role, and now with enough friends, the loss can sting less.

For The Children's Sake Help the Parent!

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