Coping with the loss of a spouse

Talking about death is still considered very difficult and research by CPJ Field has shown that 42% of people do not want to talk about it.

We know that opening dialogues can be a valuable coping mechanism which is why we launched the #TackleTheTaboo campaign. Many people plan ahead with practical arrangements for funerals, life insurance and other legacies but preparing emotionally for death and bereavement can be much harder.

Discussing The Funeral

More than two thirds of people agree that we are reluctant to discuss death and dying and yet talking about it can provide tremendous support. Even if your spouse made practical plans for their funeral, they may not have discussed all their wishes with you so this is when it is important to talk plainly with the funeral director. Set aside plenty of time plenty of time for an initial discussion and keep in touch throughout the process with any ideas or worries you may have. A good funeral director will not only be experienced in communicating difficult information, they will be happy to hear your thoughts and deal with all your concerns. This practical help from someone who is used to dealing with death on a daily basis can be a great comfort and allows you to concentrate on dealing with your emotions at this bewildering time.

Talking About Death

Once the commotion of the funeral is over, the quiet days that follow can be very difficult as you become aware of missing simple pleasures like having someone to talk about your day with. This is when staying in contact and communicating with friends and relatives becomes so important. Talking can enable you to begin to acknowledge the reality of your loss and help you to heal. It brings relief and leads to better understanding of your feelings. In the future when you feel stronger, don’t be afraid to talk to your family and friends about death and plans you may have for your own funeral and encourage them to discuss such matters with their own partners.

Reminiscing and Sharing

As time passes, the pain of your grief will diminish but it can still be very helpful to continue talking about your loved one to keep their memory alive. Marking anniversaries and other important dates can be difficult but, in general, reminiscing is useful and enjoyable and can even help protect against depression and loneliness. Looking through photographs, hearing your spouse’s voice on family videos and sharing stories and anecdotes can all help you appreciate the time you spent together and keep your loved one in your life forever.

Once initial reluctance is overcome, talking openly about death can make an enormous difference to how people cope with bereavement and grief. Discussing where to turn to for practical guidance and emotional support brings great comfort and relief. This, in turn, allows you to cherish treasured memories of your spouse as you begin to move forward in your life.

Written for CPJ Field by Jennifer Abraham

Bereavement Resources

There are various organisations which can help following the death of someone close.