You’ll never find quick or easy tips on how to be alone after years of marriage, but here you will find comfort and healing. These ideas for surviving life alone when your spouse dies are inspired by these beautiful comments from a widow named Ken:
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“My wife died recently, we were married for 37 years,” says Ken on on Living Alone After the Death of a Spouse. “She died at home from cancer, with my arms around her. She fought it for seven years but the last six months was heartbreaking to see her waste away. She was my truest friend and my true love. EMPTY is the way i feel and lonely. Every day is a battle. I wake up, kiss her photo, and ask how do I learn how to be alone after years of marriage without her. I honor her memory by doing things the way she did them. Keep the house clean and tidy. Change the bed clothes weekly. Cook the way she taught me. I remember what she did for me in our life together. I continue being the man she made me and would want me to continue to be. We never had children together. But we did everything together, as one. I’m finding life very difficult alone without her. I ask myself, ‘For who am I doing things for when life without her seems so pointless and empty?’”
If this man was in a grief support group, I would attend every meeting! What a lovely soul, so kind and sensitive. His heart is tender, his sadness so touching, and his spirit searching for love, comfort, and peace. He would be so valuable if he was interacting with other widows in a support group. And, he might find helpful tips on how to be alone after years of marriage for his own comfort and healing.
Grief support groups can be helpful for widows and widowers – but I have also heard some people say that they’re too sad and depressing. When you’re grieving and looking for ways to live alone after years of being married to someone you dearly loved, you need to find what works for you.
How to Be Alone After Years of Marriage
“You will grieve your loss of the rest of your life, but healing is something different,” writes Theresa Caputo in Good Grief: Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones, and Learn to Live Again.
“You must find ways for your grief and healing to coexist…grief is especially hard because it’s not every day that a situation demands you walk the line between feeling your heaviest feelings so you can heal and trying to protect yourself from getting stuck in a negative place.”
These ideas for surviving life alone when your spouse dies are both practical and emotional. I welcome your thoughts in the comments section below – I can’t offer advice, but writing can help you heal.
Honor your spouse’s memory in specific ways
I love that Ken honors his wife’s memory by taking care of their house the way she would like. He tidies up, makes the bed, cooks his meals the way she taught him…it’s a bittersweet way to be alone after years of marriage, isn’t it? These daily tasks and chores keep her close to his heart and memory. They keep her spirit and soul alive.
What can you do to honor your beloved partner? You don’t have to focus on household chores; you can try painting or pottery if your husband was an artist, or even sailing or kayaking if your wife was an ocean lover! Honoring your spouse’s memory can bring you peace and comfort, and even a sprinkle of joy.
One of the most important ways to heal the pain after losing someone you love is to take time to process your loss. Give yourself as much time as you need. Your soul will heal and you will learn how to be alone after years of marriage, even though your grief may never permanently leave your heart.
Allow yourself to grieve from your soul
“Grieving from the soul means honoring your own unique timeline for healing,” writes Caputo in Good Grief. “It is not God’s plan for you to become stuck in your grief indefinitely, but there is also no typical response to loss. Grief is a process. Healing faster does not mean healing better.”
You know what? It’s okay if you never learn how to be alone after years of marriage. You will never be the same. You lost a huge part of your life, and everything is different. It’s an odd place to be; everything is different yet the same, both at once.
The grief you feel is unique to you, but it’s also the same for all of us. Being alone is difficult and painful after years of marriage, and there is no magic solution for making life easy or better. The only way out is to go through the grief by writing about your feelings and connecting with other widows and widowers who are also learning how to be alone after years of marriage.
Find new meaning and purpose in your life
Your life – and the grief you feel because of your loss – isn’t random or meaningless. The emptiness you feel existed before your spouse died, but you were distracted by your life together.
When Ken said, “Who am I doing things for when life without my wife seems so pointless and empty?” I realized that he speaks for all of us – even if we’re not searching for tips on how to be alone after years of marriage.
Why are we here? What were we created to do, see, experience, be? Life isn’t just about love, marriage, family, or even meaningful ways to change our the big and little worlds we live in. God created us for a purpose. Loving a spouse and family is part of that purpose, but not the whole thing.
How do you feel after reading these ideas on how to be alone after years of marriage? Share your thoughts below. Tell me the story of your marriage, and how you’re learning to be alone. Feel free to write about whatever is on your mind – for getting it out of your heart and mind can help you heal.
If you’re up for another “Blossom” article with ideas for being alone, read Comfort and Hope After Your Husband’s Unexpected Death.
Learning how to live alone again
“Grief is not an illness like the common cold, where we can expect to recover and be as good as new in a few days,” writes Gary Roe, author of Heartbroken: Healing from the Loss of a Spouse. “Grief is more like an extended battle or a demanding marathon. We must learn to pace ourselves and appreciate that our entire system is under duress. Weathering this physically challenging storm is a long-term adventure. Taking ourselves and our bodies seriously is a key to grieving in a healing and healthy way.”
Gary is a bestselling author, hospice chaplain, and grief specialist who has walked with hundreds of spouses through this painful valley. From their stories he has composed an incredibly practical book that will touch your heart and comfort your soul as you learn how to be alone after years of marriage.
May you find hope and healing, faith and comfort in this season of grief. May you let go of the pain, and accept God’s love, peace, and hope for your future.
With compassion and love,