Recently I was asked – “I lost my spouse last year and I still feel unbalanced. When will it start to get easier”?
Everyone is different but there are some factors that might contribute to how long it takes:
• The trauma associated with their death
• Any unresolved issues
• Support from family and friends
• How social you are
• Your willingness to deal with your grief and not avoid it
Bereavement is a process and you need tools to work your way through your grief. Reaching out to others is the first step towards dealing with your grief and healing.
Trying to force yourself to “get over it” quickly may just set you up to fail. You need patience as you go through your grief and move towards healing. The average length of time to feel better can be up to three years. However, it’s also common to feel better for a while but then something will trigger your feelings of intense grief all over again.
Some people never really feel better. They don’t know how to adjust to life without their loved one and they remain lost without any joy in their lives. Sometimes this turns to depression and unless they get professional help they are stuck. This may even lead to suicidal feelings because they get tired of being tired and just want to give up.
The tricky part is engaging actively in your recovery process, starting to map out a path for your new life and yet still taking time to grieve. Slowly we learn to remember how good it is to laugh at the parts of our life that we shared with our loved one. There is no predictable timeline as the changes are coming from within you. Don’t be surprised that when you start enjoying life again you have conflicting emotions about being happy – that’s normal.
The key to getting better is to pay attention to how you respond to the loss of your loved one. For myself I have always been amazed at the beauty of nature. There is something almost magical about a peaceful walk in the sunshine or sitting quietly on a bench looking at the ever changing ocean. Accept the loss, grieve at your own pace but also be active in your own healing.
Sharing your emotional pain with supportive friends, family and community will help you to move through your grief and start feeling alive again. If you feel stuck then reach out and get some professional advice. It may only take a session or two to get you back on track.
Some of us are more private and don’t like to talk about our feelings. In that case other reliable ways to process grief are to volunteer, exercise or take up a hobby. It’s usual best to start with something you have already done because your mind is a bit foggy for the first few months. However, after a while new activities will beckon you and you will start enjoying life again.