The loss of a spouse
Posted: Thursday, October 2, 2008 10:40 pm
By: By Don Harold Lawrence
In one of the episodes of the 1970’s television sitcom series, “Rhoda,” Rhoda’s boss, Doyle, while talking about his wife’s death, said that he hated being left behind, and that it took him three years to get used to being alone. He then said that he had finally reached a point where he realized that he was glad that his wife had been alive.
Doyle had reached that important milestone in his recovery from loss where, instead of being immersed in feelings of sadness, depression and inertia, he was able to focus on being thankful for having had the opportunity to have known and loved his wife and for the years and experiences they had shared together.
One of the questions that naturally arises in response to this discussion is: How long does it take for a surviving spouse to reach this point? The answer is that there is no set time. The rate of progress varies with each individual, because each person and the circumstances of their particular loss is unique.
Bereaved people will likely experience such grief reactions as shock, numbness, denial, anger, guilt, fear depression, mental confusion, loss of momentum and motivation, and various physical reactions. As one experiences these reactions and moves through them toward healthy adjustment, acceptance and recovery, he/she can rest assured that this is one of the most difficult experiences they will face in life.
However, the good news is that bereaved people can and do survive the loss of a loved one, rebuild their lives and re-enter the mainstream of living. One of the primary indications that one has reached that high plateau of recovery and adjustment is when they move beyond their sadness and are thankful for the fact that their deceased loved one had lived and shared meaningful relationships.
Further helpful resources: “Widower” by Scott Campbell and Phyllis Silverman; “Woman to Woman” by Phyllis Silverman; “The Widow’s Handbook” by Charlotte Foehner and Carol Cozart; “Rebuilding Your Life” by Genevieve Ginsburg; and “Starting Over” by Adele Rice Nudel. One can also access helpful support groups, organizations and resources on the Internet.
Don Harold Lawrence is coordinator of SUNRISE, which is sponsored by Shackelford Corporation. He may be contacted by mail at 145 Abernathy Drive, Adamsville, TN 38310-3001 or by telephone or fax at (731) 632-4483. His Web address is www.shackelfordfuneraldirectors.com.
Published in The Messenger 10.02.08