Losing a spouse can leave you feeling very alone. After all, you’ve lost so much more than the word “spouse” can describe—your partner, your helper, your friend … the list goes on. That’s why seeking support when your loved one dies can be so critical to helping you both mourn and move forward. Here are a few resources that may help you along the way.
- Friends and family. When you’re going through something as challenging as losing your spouse, you need a support system. If you have friends and family you can count on, call on them. In most cases, they’ll be happy you let them in, and they’ll want you to express how they can help. Offer them specifics, if you can think of them. Opening up about what exactly you need is generous. It helps them know how to help you, which they very much want to do.Keep in mind there will be times when you need different types of support from different people. For example, you might need someone to listen to you when you just need to talk and share your feelings. But you might also need someone to cheer you on when you need a boost to keep going. You also won’t get far without that friend or loved one who can provide a gentle reality check just when you need it most.
- Support groups. While your close friends and family are likely your first line of comfort, they may not always understand what you’re going through. That’s where a support group can help. There are a variety of groups to consider, from grief support and widow support organizations to social groups you can find via websites like meetup.com that allow you to find peers and expand your social network. If you need a place to start, take a look at griefshare.org or talk with your doctor. Or if you’ve connected with a social worker during your spouse’s hospital or hospice stay, they can likely offer some good advice.Note that it might take a couple tries to find the right fit. Sharing with a group is deeply personal, so you’ll need to be comfortable with them. If it doesn’t click with the first group, don’t be afraid to try another.
- Online groups. Online social networks can also help you stay connected to others—especially when family and friends live far away—so don’t discount them as you seek support. This can include sites you may already use, like Facebook and Twitter, as well as networks designed specifically for individuals facing loss, like griefnet.org.
- Social Security Administration. Losing a spouse means managing your finances will be part of your new reality. Agencies like this can help you begin to plan, as well as determine your eligibility for, survivor benefits—monthly Social Security benefits for surviving spouses. Financial professionals and other resources can be helpful at this time, too. Books like Kathleen Rehl’s, “Moving Forward on Your Own” can help you navigate new financial territory.
Finally, it’s good to remember that helping others could help you heal, too. Consider volunteering your time and talents in your community, whether at your local hospital or animal shelter, or even taking on a part-time job. It will not only help fill your days, but also make them more meaningful as you move ahead.
Losing a spouse is an incredibility difficult time, and there’s a lot to sort through. If we can help, get in touch. We’d love to lend our experience and guidance.
Opinions expressed are those of the advisors at Sweet Financial Services and are not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. All opinions are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members. Raymond James is not affiliated with nor does it endorse the services or opinions of Kathleen Rehl.