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Coping With the Loss of a Spouse – Chapter 3

May 6, 2014

The following article is part 3 of 3 in a firsthand account of coping with the loss of a spouse. This series was written by Richard Sater, who cared for his wife, Dolores, for over a decade as she battled Parkinson's disease. While he was Dolores' main caregiver, she did use Concordia for a few short-term rehab stays, and attended Adult Day Services two or three half-days a week for a year. His hope is that by reading this story, spouses who have experienced the loss of a husband or wife can be more prepared for some of the challenges that may lie ahead.

Richard is not an employee of Concordia and he isn't a medical professional - and he would be the first to say that every situation is different. So like everything else you may read online, be sure to consult your physician or social service agency before taking any action.

Feel free to leave a comment below and share this article.

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This article, in three chapters, describes the issues that I dealt with from the passing of my wife, Dolores after having struggling with Parkinson’s Disease for 12 years. Chapters 1 and 2 covered the transition from being a caregiver to learning how to grieve and activities that helped me with that transition.

Many resources are available to help anyone who is going through bereavement. There are numerous organized groups that can provide information about the grieving process and may be able to provide help through the stages of grieving and, possibly, provide some social networking. It can be comforting to learn that others are going through the same process. Do some research online, or even in the old-fashioned phone book to see what’s available in your area. Some of the groups are hosted by senior centers, funeral homes or are specifically for people who have lost loved ones to cancer, or multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s, etc. Some groups are led by trained guidance counselors and others are more informal.

Are there hobbies that you have not had time for, books that you have wanted to read, concerts or theater programs that you would like to attend? These activities can be done alone or provide an opportunity to meet other people. Stay in touch with friends by phone or e-mail. Keep a journal.

Activities with family members or close friends are a good place to start. Join a club. Senior Centers offer a wide variety of activities that may be of interest. Many colleges – like our local community college – offer free or reduced tuition to seniors. Let people know that you are receptive and interested in some social activities. Just being with others will help you focus on things besides your own grief.

You may have had experiences with care giving that that you would like to share with others. Many organizations have newsletters and are receptive to including short articles describing those experiences.

It helps a great deal, to give yourself something to look forward to, something that you can anticipate with pleasure. Be creative – do something different. Volunteer. Travel. Ski. Fish. Ride a horse. Hike. Go somewhere just to have a change of scenery. That will not stop you from thinking about your lost partner, but it will be different - and that is desirable.

My goal, after losing my wife, was to build a life without her. I don’t think I will ever be entirely adjusted to her absence. But I have made progress these past 18 months. Grief is intensely personal, and people experience it in different ways. I think that grief is a journey of small steps. I move ahead. I have my work cut out for me, but it will keep me busy and engaged for the rest of my life. It’s up to me – by myself – to work at it, to make something meaningful of it.

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Good Samaritan Hospice, a mission of Concordia Lutheran Ministries, offers a number of faith-based bereavement support groups throughout the year that are open to anyone dealing with grief - regardless of whether you had a loved one in our care. For more information, call 724-933-8888.

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