Nothing prepares you for the grief and shock when your husband unexpectedly dies at home – no matter how old or healthy he was. I can’t imagine how difficult it is, or how much pain you’re in. I’m so sorry for your loss.
While you won’t find instant healing or magic tips for coping with your husband’s unexpected death here, my hope is that you’ll at least find resources to help you get through the grieving process. And, you’ll find compassion, love, and prayers to give you support and strength.
I invite you to share your story in the comments section below. One of the most important ways to work through your shock and pain is to talk about it. Write through the grief, share your emotions, tell the truth about your experience. You may find it helpful to respond to my coping tips – and even disagree with them! Write about any or all the emotions that arise while you’re reading through this article. You may feel like you have no energy while you’re grieving, but writing may give you a little boost.
How are you doing today? Some days will be worse than others. Are you still in shock about your husband’s passing? Does your home look, feel, sound, or smell different now? An unexpected home death brings a complicated layer of emotions and experiences – especially if your husband wasn’t ill or struggling with a health issue.
Here’s what one widow said after her husband’s death:
“I am shattered,” writes Jean on How to Get Through the Day When You’re a Grieving Widow. “I lost my husband after nearly 50 years of marriage. We got passports recently as we planned on going to Israel on our 50th wedding anniversary. My husband was never sick, never been in a hospital for anything. He was a full time professor and the best thing that ever happened to me. He was healthy, happy and we were madly in love. On the week of his passing, we were mostly cleaning up from a hurricane Irma. He was posting final grades and we were engaged in day to day activities.”
She didn’t expect her husband to unexpectedly die that night, at home in their bed.
“I turned on the lights and my husband was unresponsive,” writes Jean. “I called 911 but they could not revive him. So how do you live with a husband for 52 years and lose him in the blink of an eye? I feel horror and intense grief. I have actually thought I could stop this pain by stopping myself. When my husband stopped breathing, I stopped breathing. My life ended in an inexplicable instant!!!! God help me!”
Coping When Your Husband Unexpectedly Dies at Home
If you’re struggling with feelings of dark depression or despair, reach out for help. You might start by making a little comment below — or by calling a grief support helpline. Don’t struggle through this alone!
You may not feel like you have the energy or strength to talk about how to cope when your husband died unexpectedly at home, but talking may be the best way to get through today.
Join other women who experienced a similar loss
Does a nearby hospital or community center offer grief support groups? Force yourself to visit at least three times. Drop in, even if you haven’t called or registered first. Sit at the back if you want; you don’t have to say a word about your husband’s unexpected home death. Just be in the company of other women who are experiencing the loss of their husbands or partners.
Being in the company of other widows won’t erase your pain, but it may help you see that there is an end to the grieving process. You won’t be healed by tomorrow morning — but you will one day get through the worst of the grief and pain! And, if you stick with the widows grief support group for long enough, one day you may be able to offer comfort, support, and even coping tips for others.
Know you are not alone
Grief support groups can be helpful because they show you that you’re not the only one. As awful as it is, you’re not the only woman who is coping with her husband’s unexpected home death. You may find that simply hearing other womens’ stories will give you a strength and comfort you won’t find alone.
If you’re not ready to visit a grief support group — or even talk to a grief therapist — in person, you may find that online comments and blogs are helpful.
“My husband was only 51 when he died,” writes Marie on 7 Reasons Why the Grieving Process Takes Longer for Some People. “I lost my husband to ALS. It was a home death, not unexpected but incredibly painful nonetheless. We’d been married for 19 years when my husband died and I am glad he died at home. He was diagnosed 10 months before he died and I’m glad he didn’t last longer. He was in so much pain. My heart aches every day. I miss him so much, it was our second marriage. We were planning to be together for 20 or 30 more years. I am coping, but being at home doesn’t feel the same after your husband dies at home. I’m back at work and trying to handle this new life that I didn’t want. I feel disconnected from most people and life feels strange to me now. Food doesn’t taste good but I eat because I have to. I try to concentrate on one day at a time, to do the things I need to do. I’ve been told the grieving process gets easier but I can’t see how it can get easier as every morning when I wake up, he still won’t be here.”
Give yourself time to grow through the grief
As Marie said, she can’t see how her life will get easier. She wakes up every day without her husband in bed beside her; his home death was expected but still incredibly painful. But, she’s taking steps forward despite her pain. She’s going to work, forcing herself to eat, and even writing about the grief she feels.
What is your “coping style”? How are you working through the experience of your husband dying unexpectedly? Are you spending a lot of time at home, or are you staying with friends or family?
No matter how you cope with death, you need to give yourself time. It takes months — even years — to work through the painful emotions of losing your husband. Don’t give yourself a time limit or even force yourself to meet new friends as a widow. Your healing process is unique to you, and there is no “right way” to grieve. It’ll take as long as it takes; you must allow yourself the time you need to work through the sock and pain of your husband’s home death.
Learn how to help yourself through the pain
“We must learn how to find the help we need,” writes Judy Collins in The Seven T’s: Finding Hope and Healing in the Wake of Tragedy. “The therapy, the understanding, and the compassion. When I began to emerge from the pain of my own loss, I remembered therapy had always been there for me, so I redoubled my efforts to find the right people to talk to, privately and in groups, who could help me go forward.”
Judy knew she needed to find people to help her heal her broken heart and shattered dreams. Her husband didn’t die unexpectedly at home; her son took his own life after a long struggle with addiction.
Her “Seven T’s” are:
- TRUTH: Tell it. Regardless of how terrible the facts may be and how hard it is to talk about, don’t hide the truth about how you lost the person you loved.
- TRUST: Allow it. Don’t let the painful circumstances surrounding the death of your loved one prevent you from talking with friends about your loss.
- THERAPY: Get it. Seek help-whether through traditional talk therapy, your art, meditation, or whatever method you choose-but get the help you need.
- TREASURE: Hold on. Don’t stop treasuring your loved one. Don’t let the horrible events leading to his or her death wash away all of the things that were good and beautiful about that person’s life.
- THRIVE: Keep living with your eyes wide open. Don’t give in to the temptation to use alcohol or any other addiction to blunt or blur your sadness.
- TREAT: Be kind to yourself. Give yourself the gift of self-nourishment.
- TRIUMPH: You must. Live a life of joy, abundance, and forgiveness.
Which one of these Seven T’s will help you cope with your husband’s unexpected death at home? Which do you need more of? For example, perhaps you know you need to treat yourself with more kindness, gentleness, and compassion. Take time today to give yourself the gift of self-nourishment…for your husband’s sake.
Look upwards for strength, healing, and power
How has your husband’s death changed your relationship with God? Maybe you’re angry that He allowed your husband to die at home so quickly and unexpectedly. Or, maybe you feel distant and removed from God. Disappointed, even.
Or…maybe you’re clinging to God’s love, power, protection, and strength with both hands and feet! Maybe you’ve fallen into His arms with a newfound sense of humility, childlike-ness, vulnerability. Maybe you’re lonelier than you’ve ever been…and yet you’re closer to Jesus than ever.
How do you feel? About God, or the ideas I’ve shared here, or your own life? Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear from you.
May you find peace, healing, and hope in Jesus Christ. May you choose to lean on Him because you know nobody else understands the pain when your husband dies unexpectedly at home…and may you learn new ways to survive loss and recover from grief.
Getting Through the Grieving Process
In Progressing Through Grief: Guided Exercises to Understand Your Emotions and Recover from Loss, Stephanie Jose offers an interactive way to work through the grieving process. This book isn’t specifically for widows whose husbands died unexpectedly at home, but it does offer an in-depth look at grief.
In this book, you’ll learn what to expect as you experience the process of grieving your husband’s death. Stephanie offers real life stories to help you feel more “normal” and show you you’re not alone. You’ll also find a chart that lays out signs of normal grief – as well as the signs of clinical depression – to help you identify what stage you may be in.
Take good care of yourself…and please feel free to say “hello” below! Tell me how you are, and what you’re experiencing. You may find it comforting to know that someone is here, waiting for you to share your thoughts.
Your thoughts are welcome below! I don't give advice, but you can get free relationship help from marriage coach Mort Fertel.