Welcome to Widowhood - now what??

Welcome to the club no one wants to join.

  • There are 20 million widows & widowers in the U.S. with 1.4 million added annually. Almost 80% of them are women.

  • The median age of widowhood is 59.

  • Seventy-eight percent of widows say that becoming a widow is the single hardest thing they’ve been through

No one prepares us for this, and rarely do you see a rally of support or guidance for our journey. Until now.

When I lost my husband after a 20 month battle with brain cancer, I had no idea what to do next, how to do it, or how to spend my miserable 24 hours of each day.

I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat solid food. I had no desire to go outside and when I did, I had to use Google Maps to find my way home, because the WIdow Fog was too thick. While no one was looking, I had a nervous breakdown, and had to sort through how to put myself back together again.

Studies show that the grief of losing a spouse or partner affects not just emotional and mental health, but physical health as well. Research highlights that the surviving spouse or partner is likely to develop health problems in the weeks and months that follow. The body, mind, emotions, nervous system and belief system has been shattered, scattered and stupefied.

Common health issues that are a result of deep grief include:

  • Narrow focus / short attention span / Inability to concentrate

  • Hyper-reactive to situations / fear based decision making / Inconsistent behavior / panic attacks

  • Hyper-emotional response to anger, victimization, fear, helplessness, shame, depression and anxiety

  • Loss of hope / loss of direction / inability to feel joy or enthusiasm / search for a rescuer / dissociation

  • Emotional eating / addictive behavior for drugs, drinking, shopping, sex

  • Unusual weight gain / weight loss

  • Lack of appetite or unnatural food craving / digestive issues

  • PTSD type symptoms: fear of trust, terminal aloneness, Issues with emotional regulation, emotional flashbacks / terror visions, hyper-vigilance about people,

  • Persistent sadness / suicidal feelings / loss of faith

  • Muscle armoring/ constant tension in muscles

  • Chronic pain / inflammation 

  • Fatigue / insomnia / adrenal fatigue

  • Shortness of breath / chest pain / dizziness

  • Constipation / Internal and external dryness / inability to get warm

  • Catching cold or flu more frequently than usual

  • Headache / Migraine

  • Irregular menses or early onset menopause

That’s a lot. And if you had any of those things BEFORE the loss of your spouse, you can bet it was exacerbated by the stress and anxiety of loss. In this new state of existence, you now have a lot of work to do to handle the estate, the home, and the finances.

Now more than ever, the most important thing you can do is to make time and space for healing.

  • Develop a daily routine in the morning and/or evening to build a foundation for neural stability

  • Eat real food - it’s ok to ask friends and family to help you feed yourself - cooking for 1 can be difficult at first

  • Ask for help - you have permission to stumble, fall and stagger - just try not to stay there

  • Seek the help of professionals - talk therapy / EMDR, yoga therapy, massage, reiki, sound healing, ayurvedic care (traditional Indian rejuvenation medicine)

  • Get the help you need to manage your finances and navigate the estate process

  • Seek grief counseling, journal your feelings

  • Develop a meditation process with the help of a competent guide

  • Get out, visit with friends, spend time in nature, volunteer

  • Join a social circle, women’s group, or your local widow’s club

The Widow’s Journey is 501c3 non profit organization serving widows in the DFW area to navigate this new life. You are seen. You are loved. Please reach out - our Welcome Committee to find a community that shares your unique concerns.

Your pain is unique, your journey is one we can walk with you. There are solutions, services and help. There is a community who understands your pain and the difficulties of navigating this new world.

Feel free to contact me at Kirsten@PraniLife.com to find out more about the holistic health solutions and providers that can help you widow well.

If you would like to donate to The Widow’s Journey to help us support and empower this under-recognized and under-supported demographic, please click here to help.

Photo by Malcolm Green on Unsplash