Death of a Partner, Husband or Wife

Losing your partner will have a significant impact on the rest of your life. You will no longer hold the title of wife, husband or life partner and are now known as a widower or widow. This change in status may leave you feeling uncertain, sometimes even stigmatised, perhaps lacking identity and emotionally vulnerable.

Many of the certainties in your life such as your future financial stability and level of responsibility can change dramatically. If you are nursing your partner through a terminal illness then you will experience the difficulties and emotional turmoil both during the illness and again on death. So how can you prepare for a future without your partner?

  • Discuss how you feel about losing one another with your partner. You have shared your feelings in your life together so it is normal to share your fears and feeling about death. You should still be able to lean on each other for support.
  • Continue to love one another to the end, although the dynamic of your relationship may change your love doesn’t have to.
  • Don’t blame your partner, it isn’t their fault. If you need to express your anger do it to friends or family who can cope with the emotional burden.
  • Even if a person is very ill, take the time to create situations which will create good memories.
  • Plan for a future without them – set some ‘single’ ambitions, this will give you a reason to move on when they are gone.
  • Be honest about your feelings. Don’t apologise for feeling angry or disappointed that this has happened to you.
  • If your partner dies after a long and painful illness, you may feel a sense of relief on death and it is perfectly acceptable to feel this way.
  • Give yourself time to grieve, both at diagnosis and on death. Putting on a brave face will only delay the grieving process. It will take time to adjust.
  • However difficult try to plan practical things in advance such as funeral planning and sorting out finances so you don’t have to start from scratch when you are dealing with a recent death.
  • Take practical help when it is offered – do whatever you can to lighten your burden.

Talking through your feelings can be very helpful. You can find help from your local GP or counsellors.

CRUSE runs groups for people who are grieving.