When a Spouse Dies - Helping Yourself Heal

​Your life has changed, and the emptiness may at times feel overwhelming. Few events in life are as painful as the death of a spouse. Losing your companion, the person with whom you shared your life, feels like losing a part of yourself. Your life journey has taken a new and unexpected direction, but you do have the strength to step along this path, which will lead to peace and healing.

ALLOW yourself to grieve. Accept the reality of your loss and acknowledge your thoughts and feelings. Healing cannot begin until you have given yourself permission to grieve.


ACCEPT that your grief is unique. Everyone grieves differently, because each person and relationship is different. Don't compare this grief with others, or expect it to last a certain period of time. Try to take things one day at a time.

EXPECT to feel many different emotions. You may feel confusion, fear, guilt, anger or other strong emotions. Don't let these feelings frighten you. They are normal, healthy expressions of grief. Try to understand and learn from them.

SHARE your thoughts and feelings. Expressing your grief openly doesn't mean that you are losing control. Talk about your spouse and share your memories with supportive friends and family.

BE COMPASSIONATE with yourself. Some days will be more difficult than others. Holidays, birthdays and special occasions are particularly emotional times. Do what feels right for you at these times.

TREASURE your memories. Allow good memories to bring you comfort. Difficult memories can also bring healing, if you can express them openly. Whether they make you laugh or cry, memories are a lasting part of your relationship.

Learn how we can help your healing begin


  • Your feeling of emptiness is normal

  • Grief is a long process

  • You will be able to laugh again

  • Give yourself time.

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Things to consider

  • It's easy to ignore your own health. Try to get sufficient food, sleep and exercise.

  • Many people have physical symptoms such as heaviness in the chest or extreme fatigue. If you or others are concerned, see your doctor.

  • Avoid addictive behaviour. Your doctor may recommend medication for anxiety, or to help you sleep. Please be careful: drugs and alcohol will only mask the pain, not cure it.

  • Try not to make major decisions during the first year. It's hard to know if you've made the right choices, when you still are unsure of your new status.

  • Take time with your spouse's belongings. Don't force yourself to go through their things until you are ready.

  • Recognize that you may not be able to do everything. Ask for advice or help if you need it. It's difficult to take on your partner's role as well as your own.

  • Children are often called the forgotten mourners. Share with them, and support each other. Seek additional support for them and yourself if you feel overwhelmed.

  • There is no substitute for yourself. Don't avoid social contact, but try to accept people for who they are. Remember that new relationships can be comforting, but hard to judge objectively.

We offer support in a variety of different ways, visit our programs and services page to learn more about how we can help.

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