Widows and Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are the most frightening of all stress symptoms and are experienced by approximately one in ten adults.  They can occur after we have lost a loved one and our stress is high.

A panic attack causes your heart to start pounding, you feel dizzy, sweating and shaking, causing you to be terrified that you are going to faint or completely lose control.

It may appear out of nowhere but is usually triggered by an overload of stresses, worries and life events such as the death of a loved one.  You may misinterpret a panic attack by thinking you’re having a heart attack, dying or going crazy.  Once you have one panic attack you are always looking for signs of another, which causes you to become even more anxious and irrational.

Remember that they are unpleasant and frightening but that panic attacks in themselves are harmless.  They happen when you are feeling tired or run down and less able to cope with stress.

How to Cope with Panic Attack

  • Remember feelings of panic are exaggerated reactions to stress.
  • They are harmless by themselves.
  • Distract yourself by studying your surroundings in detail.
  • Slow down and focus on the word “calm” – repeating it over and over
  • Accept your feelings, knowing it will be over quickly.
  • Take slow, deep breaths; concentrate on breathing in and out.
  • Shout out “stop” and deliberately think about something else.
  • Try to break your thought pattern by putting a rubber band around your wrist and snapping it every time you have an unwanted thought. 

3 Responses

  1. Elia
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    my husband passed December 19th 2014.it will be ten months since he left this world and the first 5 months of my life alone I walked around in a fog,alive but just going through the motions..I’ve experienced depression,grief,anger,sadness and loneliness but I felt completely helpless when I had panic attacks which would hit suddenly and last for about 20 minutes. I have decided that my life does have meaning and although it will be hard to experience life as it was with Phillip,he would want me to go on and allow him to see life through my eyes.

  2. Barbara
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    My panic attacks also come with bathrrom issues, and sometimes nausea.  I always had them, and my doctor but me on a tranqulizer to keep them at bay.  Since the death of my husband 8 months ago, I just had my first one this morning.  Last night I had terrible nightmares, and the strangest thing happened.  I woke from the nightmare because a women standing next to my husbands side of the bed called my name twice.  I didn't actually see her, but know of her prensence. I didn't know the voice, but it was soft and genlle.  I can't help but think it was an angle.  I was soaked with sweat from the nightmare.  I wanted my husband with me so badly.  Later the next morning I had the panic attack.  Today I have been on my gingerale, saltine diet for nausea.  I hope I don't have another one for a long time.  I feel so alone as my family is scattered all over the US.  Will this ever go away?

  3. Mary Francis
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    Hi Barbara – many widows have told me stories about angles or visits from their husbands.  I, myself, felt the presence of my husband one night when I was half asleep.  It was just the comfort I needed at that time.  Our health often takes a down turn when we are grieving, so it’s normal to have some issues for a while.  Take control by doing what you can by diet and exercise.  If you do what you can, then you have to let the rest go.  After grieving comes healing, both mentally and physically, but healing takes time.

    Take care, Mary Francis

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