Losing a Spouse
The loss of a spouse is one of life’s greatest pains along with the loss of parents or the loss of a child. One’s husband or wife is a life long friend and mate who went through ‘better or worst” and grew old with you in all the hills and valleys of life. The loss and sudden loss of this friend can be crippling to some. While many are not totally crippled by the loss, the severe sting and pain is intense.
In analyzing this loss, one must look at various components that will reflect the level of grief due to loss and whether or not the grief could become pathological. First, as in call cases of human relations, the attachment between the two individuals plays a key role in the reactionary grief to the loss. Obviously, spousal love is an intense attachment so in most cases, grief is intense and longer than a casual relationship.
Yet the intensity of the attachment differs from different couples. Grief Counselors need to identify the dependency factor in a client’s relationship with their deceased spouse. Some spouses are completely emotionally dependent upon the other. The loss of a spouse leaves them alone and terrified of the outside world. Another dependency is financial. Some spouses completely depend on their other for financial support or even physical support with house or yard work. When dependencies are greater, then the grief can become greater and adaptation becomes harder for the grieving spouse.
Another thing to consider is external support. Family is key for a grieving spouse. A spouse who has no children or grandchildren to support them in their grief will likely feel more alone and isolated. If a person has no support, a grief counselor should take special measures to keep in close contact with their client. In these cases, it is important to help these spouses become more self sufficient. It is also important that the grieving find support in support groups or church groups that can help them readapt to life. The sharing of the grief with others who have lost a spouse can help the grieving and also give them a reason to help others as well.
If proper measures are not taken, the grieving can become depressed or loss in grief. They will slowly dwindle from sight and some may even lose the will to live. This is especially the case with elderly spouses who have no family or person to love. These old souls become tormented by past memories and find no purpose or life mission, but see life as a remaining count down to their eventual demise. The reality is, these people still have a chapter to write in their lives and such depression is depriving them of their final years.
If you are interested in grief counseling certifications, please review the program.
Mark Moran, MA, GC-C, SCC-C