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How to Deal With Being a Young Widow

by Stacey Elkins, studioD

The death of a spouse at a young age is a devastating event. Your husband has passed away and the pain is unbearable. You feel like your world has stopped and you will never recover. However, time and support will help you through the grieving process and help you heal.


You may feel shocked, angry, irritable, guilty or sad. These are all common emotions after the death of a loved one. You might feel all of them, a few of them or another emotion entirely. No one grieves the same way. Don’t try to bury your feelings. Doing so will delay the healing process. You may experience physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, chest pain, exhaustion, loss of appetite or muscle tension, according to The Harvard Medical School Health Guide article “Dealing with Grief and Bereavement.” Take care of yourself physically by eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and exercising. Be patient with yourself, and don’t try to rush the grieving process. Everyone heals in her own time.

Lean on Others

The support of others is the most important factor in the healing process, according to HelpGuide.org's “Coping with Grief and Loss.” Your friends and family will want to support you throughout this painful time. Don’t push them away. Draw them close and accept their help. They may take initiative and bring you food, run errands or walk your dog, if you have one. Don’t be afraid to tell someone what you need or want. Tasks can seem especially overwhelming when you are grieving. There may be tasks that your husband did, such as yard work, mechanical work or handling finances that will now fall on you. At times you may want someone to sit quietly with you, or you may want to talk about your feelings, the events surrounding the death of your husband, or reminisce about good times. However, if you want to spend time alone, don’t hesitate to tell your friends and family.

Group Support and Therapy

In the year following the death of a spouse, 50 percent of widows suffer from depression, says The Harvard Medical School Health Guide. Group support can be a valuable resource to help you through this difficult time. It offers you a chance to share your thoughts and feelings with people who are going through the same loss. If you’re not comfortable with a group setting, individual therapy may be a good option for you. This setting will give you a chance to talk one-on-one about your loss, the difficulties surrounding it, your emotions or anything that is on your mind.

Holidays and Special Occasions

The holidays, your spouse’s birthday and your anniversary were probably happy occasions before the death of your husband. Now, they may bring a sense of dread and reopen the wounds of your loss. It may be helpful to do something in honor and remembrance of your spouse. A lot of grieving individuals find that creating new rituals to include their loved one can be difficult yet healing, says Karla Helbert, a therapist and author of “Grief for All Seasons." For example, you could share stories of good memories, have a toast or light a candle in his memory. It might also help to divert from your usual holiday plans. For instance, if you generally hosted Christmas, have another relative host the holiday. However, don’t feel that you have to participate in holiday activities if it will be too difficult for you.

About the Author

Stacey Elkins is a writer based in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and a Masters in social work from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she specialized in mental health.

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