While you need to be careful of the mixed emotions that can play tricks on even the soundest of minds, there is not any ‘correct’ or ‘proper’ length of time (or formal mourning) that should pass after losing a partner.
My New Life - How do I start?
This page will be most relevant if you are the spouse or partner of the person who has died but this is not to underestimate the loss that can be felt by other relationships; indeed as discussed on another page, it is the reliance upon each other in a relationship that is a major factor in the feeling of loss. However, typically, it is the spouse or partner who will need to make the greatest adjustments to their lives.
You may find it difficult to believe that life may return to something that is enjoyable and meaningful, but it can. You will need to be strong (even if you don’t feel it) and you will need to be optimistic during the difficult times ahead. Look for little successes in what you do; celebrate them and use them to unlock the route to greater successes.
Take advantage of Tapper Funeral Service’s Outlook Bereavement Support; it is there for you and people like you; it is free of charge and you can tap into its resources and drop out again whenever you want to. When you feel at a low ebb, write on our message board, perhaps others are feeling the same way or can offer support having been there recently themselves.
Despite it appearing at first a little extreme, you need to move towards a ‘new life’. Many aspects of your life will change. From a practical perspective you may need to learn to perform the tasks that your partner/spouse used to do for you both or at least find someone to do it for you. Perhaps he always mowed the lawn; perhaps she always cooked the dinner. You could take a positive out of this dilemma and enrol in a class to learn these new skills; perhaps you have a friend who could attend too, for support. Your social world has also changed as some of the things you enjoyed together may be far more difficult on your own. Perhaps you socialised with a group of other couples – this may feel less comfortable now. However, perhaps there were things you would have liked to have done in the past that were not very popular with your other half? In bereavement new opportunities arise, such as the perusal of new hobbies that may provide great enjoyment.
You may feel you need support. You probably have the support of family and friends, but they will all have their own lives to lead and may not be with you all of the time. You may find it helpful to have the support of other people who are in a similar situation to you and others who are perhaps a little further on in their bereavement. Outlook Bereavement Support also arranges informal, friendly meetings, usually over some coffee, where people can just talk about their experiences or just listen to other people. There is always a leader at these meetings who is well aware how frightening it can be to attend and who will do everything possible to make newcomers comfortable. In addition to these group meetings, there are remembrance services that are perhaps more meditative than they are religious. There is also a network offering a range of social opportunities from local theatre visits to day trips by coach, to fitness and yoga classes. There is something for everyone.
What If I Meet Someone New?
Very few of us were designed to live alone; we yearn for companionship and to share our experiences with others. If you meet someone else and form a mutually rewarding relationship then good luck to you and long may it continue! Be careful of falling into the trap of trying to replace the one who has died but otherwise go for it.
However, be warned: Not everyone will see it this way. If you have family, they may well be surprised; they may feel threatened. Children in particular are prone to resent the new person in your life. Their loss is of a parent and is completely different to your loss. While they are bereaved, their lives will continue in a manner that is similar to life before the loss of their parent. By definition the role of a parent cannot be replaced and as such the children are forced to draw a line in conclusion. Their loss does not include the 24/7 companionship as is often the case between partners. In part at least, this loss of the companionship of a partner can be helped even if it cannot be replaced.
When these two principles come into conflict, you may need to have a frank but firm conversation with the family around you. After all, it’s your life and you only live it once!