Newly widowed – what next?

Many widowed people tell us they feel overwhelmed with support after their loved one has died.  Family and friends fly in and the house can seem busier than ever while people rally around to help and care for you.  

Tasks like planning a funeral and working through the logistics and paperwork can be a distraction that gives us purpose when all else is lost, however once the dust settles and people slowly go back to their own lives, reality can set in. For these reasons, three to six months after a death can be the hardest time for those left behind. 

  • You may feel like you don’t belong anywhere. Relationships may change as a result of this. You may be surprised at the friends and associates who drift out of your life, but be open to welcoming in new people also. You may  find comfort and support in unexpected places. 
  • Some days you will feel ok. Embrace these days and make the most of them, but don’t be surprised when the next wave of grief sweeps in.
  • Always remember that everyone grieves differently and try not to compare your situation to another widowed person's.
  • Consider reaching out to others who are widowed. It’s an amazing moment to talk with someone who actually gets it. We each walk an individual path, but can provide each other with understanding and validation.
  • Open yourself to new experiences and friendships.
  • You don’t have to answer to anyone but yourself (and sometimes not even to yourself).
  • There may be pressure from others for you to move on – ignore it!
  • Major life events and milestones change.
  • You will learn to identify your grief triggers – they are everywhere. You will also get stronger over time and these triggers will not affect you as much.
  • There is nothing to get over. You eventually learn to absorb the pain and it becomes a part of you. It will always be there, but that doesn’t mean that life stops. Slowly you learn to embrace life and be happy again.
  • Consider counselling.  Your doctor can give you a Mental Health Plan  that includes Medicare-subsidised visits to a psychologist, along with a referral to someone who specialises in grief counselling. Even twelve months later or years down the track, counselling can help us accept our loss and come to terms with the unexpected changes it has bought to our lives. 
  • When you feel ready, start looking for ways to bring joy back into your life.  This could include travel or taking up a hobby that you've always wanted to try but never had the opportunity.  It won't be easy, you will most likely wish that your loved one was still here and it can be hard not to long for the life we've lost. Remember it is possible to build a new life and find happiness there also. 
  • Give yourself time.  Be patient. It's a long road but every step you take is a step in the right direction. 
You are not alone.  First Light Widowed Association has a number of programs to connect widowed people with our supportive community, including our online forum for widowed people and our local catch ups