6 Ways to Rebuild Your Life after the Death of Your Partner (2023)

6 Ways to Rebuild Your Life after the Death of Your Partner (1)

Time heals all wounds.

Somebody may have said this to you after your partner or spouse died. While the sentiment was well-intentioned, you might have realized that it doesn’t ring true. Just waiting for the days to pass by isn’t going to make you feel better. However, what you do during your grief can make a big difference in your healing process. The National Institute on Aging1 shares some advice on how you can start to feel whole:

Nourish yourself

Some people lose interest in food while they’re grieving. If that’s how you feel, it’s important to remember that your body needs food to function — even if you don’t feel like it. Try to eat three healthy meals each day. Want some company? Ask a friend or family member to come over. Cooped up in the kitchen? Take a sandwich outside and eat it in a park. Don’t feel like cooking? Order take-out from your favorite restaurant.

Talk to friends and family

Your family and friends will take cues from you on if they should share memories about your spouse or partner. For example, they might not talk about your partner because they are afraid it could make you feel sad. But let your family and friends know that you want to talk. This is a wonderful way to heal and keep your partner’s memory alive.

Get connected to your religious or spiritual community

Many people lean on their faith during times of grief. You might find comfort in praying, talking to people in your religious organization, reading spiritual texts or listening to inspiring music. Many religious organizations stream their services online, if you prefer to listen at home.

Don’t forget about your doctor

You have to take care of yourself. This can be difficult, especially if you went to the doctor’s office with your partner. You should call your doctor’s office and let them know about your loss. If your partner was the one who would remind you to make your appointments or pick up your medication, make sure you have everything you need from your doctor to stay on track.

See a grief counselor

Tell your doctor if you’re having trouble with everyday activities, like getting dressed or making meals, says the National Institute on Aging2. They can refer you to a grief counselor, to help you work through your pain. You also might benefit from a grief support group. Religious groups, local hospitals, nursing homes or funeral homes might know where to find one.

Get your legal and financial paperwork organized

This can seem like an overwhelming task, especially if your partner was the one who mostly handled it. But now, you’re the one in charge. If you have a financial advisor or accountant, make an appointment to get your affairs in order. Talk to a lawyer about writing a new will or updating your advance care planning. Put all your joint property (like a house or car) in your name. See if you need to change your healthcare, life, car or homeowner’s insurance.

The loss of a spouse or partner can make you feel lost. But with proper support and care, you can start to re-build your life and find your way again.


  1. “Mourning the Death of a Spouse,” National Institute on Aging, June 10, 2022, https://www.nia.gov/health/mourning-nih.death-spouse
  2. “Mourning the Death of a Spouse”


How do you reinvent yourself after your spouse dies? ›

Grief Guide: 6 Ways to Rebuild Your Life after the Death of Your...
  1. Talk to friends and family. ...
  2. Get connected to your religious or spiritual community. ...
  3. Don't forget about your doctor. ...
  4. See a grief counselor. ...
  5. Get your legal and financial paperwork organized.
Aug 9, 2022

How do I get back into life after losing a loved one? ›

If you or someone you know has lost a loved one, the following tips may help you cope with the loss:
  1. Let yourself feel the pain and all the other emotions, too. ...
  2. Be patient with the process. ...
  3. Acknowledge your feelings, even the ones you don't like. ...
  4. Get support. ...
  5. Try to maintain your normal lifestyle. ...
  6. Take care of yourself.
May 10, 2019

Does the pain of losing a spouse ever go away? ›

When you lose someone close to you, that grief never fully goes away—but you do learn to cope with it over time. Several effective coping techniques include talking with loved ones about your pain, remembering all of the good in your life, engaging in your favorite activities, and consulting with a grief counselor.

How long does grief last after the death of a spouse? ›

It's common for the grief process to take a year or longer. A grieving person must resolve the emotional and life changes that come with the death of a loved one. The pain may become less intense, but it's normal to feel emotionally involved with the deceased for many years.

How losing a spouse changes you? ›

You may feel numb, shocked, and fearful. You may feel guilty for being the one who is still alive. At some point, you may even feel angry at your spouse for leaving you. All of these feelings are normal.

How can I live happily after my husband dies? ›

These 8 practical suggestions may help you move toward healing after your spouse or partner passes away.
  1. Allow Yourself to Grieve the Loss of Your Spouse or Partner. ...
  2. Grieve in Your Own Way. ...
  3. Talk Out Your Thoughts and Feelings. ...
  4. Feel a Mixture of Emotions. ...
  5. Find a Support System. ...
  6. Understand that Grief Is Hard Work.

Why can't I get over the death of a loved one? ›

This is known as complicated grief, sometimes called persistent complex bereavement disorder. In complicated grief, painful emotions are so long lasting and severe that you have trouble recovering from the loss and resuming your own life. Different people follow different paths through the grieving experience.

What triggers you after losing a loved one? ›

The answer is simple - anything that brings up memories of a loss that has happened to you. Sometimes, we think of obvious times of the year that such triggers will be the strongest - birthdays, Christmas, family occasions, holiday times and the like.

How does death affect someone mentally? ›

People might feel or act differently to usual when they are grieving. They might have difficulty concentrating, withdraw and not enjoy their usual activities. They may drink, smoke or use drugs. They may also have thoughts of hurting themselves or that they can't go on.

Which stage of grief is the hardest? ›

What is the hardest stage of grief? Depression is usually the longest and most difficult stage of grief. Depression can be a long and difficult stage in the grieving process, but it's also when people feel their deepest sadness.

What is the hardest part of losing spouse? ›

A common theme among people who have lost their spouse is the debilitating effects of feeling entirely alone and incomplete. The sense of feeling like you have lost an essential part of yourself is both painful and disconcerting. The world suddenly looks like a different place, often odd and distanced.

How long is too long to grieve? ›

There is no set length or duration for grief, and it may come and go in waves. However, according to 2020 research , people who experience common grief may experience improvements in symptoms after about 6 months, but the symptoms largely resolve in about 1 to 2 years.

What is widow fire? ›

'Widow's or widower's fire' is a natural phenomenon defined as a strong desire for sex following bereavement and is often considered a natural part of the grieving process.

Will I ever be happy again after the death of my husband? ›

Until the intensity of your grief subsides, you can't expect to be truly happy again. Work through your guilt, extreme pain, extreme sadness, intense anger, and every other feeling and emotion. Often, reaching out to a grief counselor gives you a structure for doing this work.

How do widows cope with loneliness? ›

One of the first steps in combating loneliness is being around others who share some of the same interests as you. Try your best to pull yourself out of your grief enough to volunteer a weekend or two each month at a local charity or food bank to help those in need.

What not to do when your spouse dies? ›

Top 10 Things Not to Do When Someone Dies
  1. 1 – DO NOT tell their bank. ...
  2. 2 – DO NOT wait to call Social Security. ...
  3. 3 – DO NOT wait to call their Pension. ...
  4. 4 – DO NOT tell the utility companies. ...
  5. 5 – DO NOT give away or promise any items to loved ones. ...
  6. 6 – DO NOT sell any of their personal assets. ...
  7. 7 – DO NOT drive their vehicles.
Apr 13, 2019

Which spouse usually dies first? ›

We can live longer, happier lives but until then, we may have to accept that not just anecdotes, but statistics favour the wives: Men often die first.

Does losing someone change you? ›

HOW GRIEF CHANGES US FOR NOW: Changes in sleep, eating, and overall energy. Personality changes like being more irritable, less patient, or no longer having the tolerance for other people's “small” problems. Forgetfulness, trouble concentrating and focusing.

What widows need to know? ›

Life After Loss: A Widow's To Do List
  • Request death certificates.
  • Review beneficiary designations.
  • Process death claims.
  • Determine Taxability.
  • Organize and review all of your new financials.
  • Update your legal documents and beneficiary designations.
  • Make other necessary changes.
Sep 30, 2021

Is it normal to cry everyday after a death? ›

People react to grief in very different ways. Some people find they cry very frequently and may be overwhelmed by the strength of their emotions. Others may feel numb for some time, or feel unable to cry. Some people experience swings between extremes.

Does grief age your face? ›

Grief or bereavement releases the hormone cortisol in reaction to stress that breaks down tissue and, in excess, can lead to collagen breakdown and accelerated aging. High cortisol levels prompt the skin's sebaceous glands to release more sebum. This in turn results in clogged pores, inflammation, and an increase in p.

What is masked grief? ›

Masked grief occurs when someone tries to suppress their feelings of grief and not deal with them or allow them to run their natural course. In the very early moments after a loss, our bodies and minds are clever in that the initial feelings of shock and denial are useful to us.

What does unresolved grief look like? ›

With prolonged grief, you may have an intense feeling of longing for a person who has died. You may have trouble thinking about anything other than the person who died. These feelings may interfere with your ability to take care of your daily responsibilities.

Is there medication for grief? ›

Medications. There's little solid research on the use of psychiatric medications to treat complicated grief. However, antidepressants may be helpful in people who have clinical depression as well as complicated grief.

How do I stop crying after losing a loved one? ›

Here are five ideas that might help you cope when someone you love has died:
  1. Join in rituals. Memorial services and funerals are times to gather. ...
  2. Accept your emotions. Don't stop yourself from having a good cry if you feel one coming on. ...
  3. Talk about it when you can. ...
  4. Preserve memories. ...
  5. Get the support you need.

What happens to the body when you lose a loved one? ›

Grief can cause a variety of effects on the body including increased inflammation,8 joint pain, headaches, and digestive problems. It can also lower your immunity, making you more susceptible to illness. Grief also can contribute to cardiovascular problems, difficulty sleeping, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.

How long does grief fatigue last? ›

Grieving isn't just an emotional process. It can be surprisingly physical too, leaving you exhausted, achy, restless and even with cold or flu-like symptoms. Your mind and body are run down and burnt out, and you might feel that way for weeks or even months.

What are the mental stages after death? ›

The five stages of grief model (or the Kübler-Ross model) states that those experiencing grief go through a series of five emotions: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

What are the 3 C's of grief? ›

Practice the three C's

As you build a plan, consider the “three Cs”: choose, connect, communicate. Choose: Choose what's best for you. Even during dark bouts of grief, you still possess the dignity of choice. “Grief often brings the sense of loss of control,” said Julie.

Why is it important to cry of grief? ›

Researchers have established that crying releases oxytocin and endogenous opioids, also known as endorphins. These feel-good chemicals help ease both physical and emotional pain.

Do most widows remarry? ›

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 61% of widows and widowers eventually choose to remarry. The study also revealed that men are more likely to remarry than women.

Is it normal to want to be alone after death of spouse? ›

This loneliness is completely normal, but if not addressed, could lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression. It is important to not feel guilty about continuing with your social life after the loss of your loved one. They would not want you sat at home alone, feeling down.

Why is losing a spouse so painful? ›

A common theme among people who have lost their spouse is the debilitating effects of feeling entirely alone and incomplete. The sense of feeling like you have lost an essential part of yourself is both painful and disconcerting. The world suddenly looks like a different place, often odd and distanced.

Does the grief ever end? ›

Although the intensity of your feelings may lessen over time, there is no timetable for how long you will grieve. The length of time is different for each person. For most people their mourning period is a long process and it can take years.

Is it worse to lose a spouse or child? ›

The few studies that have compared responses to different types of losses have found that the loss of a child is followed by a more intense grief than the death of a spouse or a parent [5].

What do widows struggle with? ›

The feel of Loneliness

Losing someone creates a gap of them in our lives. Similarly losing her spouse puts the widow into a position of loneliness. Even if the widow is always surrounded by the most loving and supportive people (friends & family) there'd still be times when she'd go through a mental state of isolation.

How long should you wear your wedding ring after your spouse dies? ›

There is no right or wrong decision in this matter.” Continue wearing the ring. Many widows/widowers continue to wear their wedding ring until they feel ready to take it off. Some will continue to wear it forever.

What are the promises of God to widows? ›

The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. My comfort in my suffering is this; Your promise preserves my life. Sustain me, my God, according to your promise, and I will live; do not let my hopes be dashed.

What does the Bible say about widows? ›

1Tim. 5. [3] Honour widows that are widows indeed. [4] But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God.

Do you still wear your wedding ring when widowed? ›

There is no rule that says you cannot wear your wedding ring after your spouse is deceased. If you feel more comfortable wearing it, then wear it. However, you may want to consider taking it off to fully move on with life. Your ring may serve as a reminder of your husband and your relationship.

Why is the second year of widowhood harder than the first? ›

Often the second year is the hardest as that's when the real grief work might begin. This is the time when you may be ready to face your grief head on and deal with any issues that are holding you back. If you're not ready yet though, don't feel guilty. There is no deadline and everyone grieves in their own time.

When grief never ends but it changes? ›

But it Changes. It's A Passage, Not A Place To Stay. Grief Is Not A Sign Of Weakness, Nor A Lack Of Faith.

Can a widow ever be happy? ›

With wisdom and support, a widow can doubtlessly survive the grieving process. It is always possible to move forward and enjoy a meaningful and transformed life. Also, your late wife or husband would not want to see you miserable. They would want you to move on with life and be happy.

How old are most widows? ›

The average age of widowhood in the U.S. is just 59, and pre-retirees who are widowed face unique challenges. There are 11.8 million widows in the U.S. and approximately 2,800 new widows are joining these ranks every day.

Do most widows want to remarry? ›

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 61% of widows and widowers eventually choose to remarry. The study also revealed that men are more likely to remarry than women.

What grief really does to your brain and how it changes it forever? ›

Grief can rewire our brain in a way that worsens memory, cognition, and concentration. You might feel spacey, forgetful, or unable to make “good” decisions. It might also be difficult to speak or express yourself. These effects are known as grief brain.

What is the final stage of grief? ›

Acceptance. The last stage of grief identified by Kübler-Ross is acceptance. Not in the sense that "it's OK my husband died" but rather, "my husband died, but I'm going to be OK." In this stage, your emotions may begin to stabilize.

What is final grief? ›

Some people move through the stages in different order; others do not experience every stage. The final stage of grief is acceptance. In this last phase, people begin to come to grips with their own mortality, that of a loved one, or the circumstances surrounding a tragic loss.

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