‘Good Mourning’ for adults who have lost their spouse

Few events in life are more painful than the death of a spouse. You are likely to face a wide array of feelings. You may feel angry, frightened, guilty, confused and even relieved. These emotions may come and go, or they may occur simultaneously. Grief is a normal reaction to loss, but it is unique in its impact, course and meaning to each of us. There is no set timetable for grieving. No one can tell you when you will feel better or that in so many months or years you will be able to wake up without your loss being the first thing you think about.

The loss of a spouse affects the most basic elements of one’s day-to-day life. When married, one partner may have paid the bills or brought the car in for repairs. The other person may have cooked the meals or did the laundry. The widower whose wife always did the grocery shopping may become paralyzed in the supermarket. The widow, whose husband brought the car in for an oil change, may feel overwhelmed at the thought of contacting a mechanic.

Men and women share many of the same feelings after their spouse dies. You may feel confused and not sure of whom you are; that is normal. You have lost your companion – you have lost part of yourself. You may feel as if your entire past and future have disappeared. When you experience the death of someone you love, lived with, and depended on, feeling disoriented is natural. An often overlooked aspect of losing a spouse is the change in identity you may experience. As you move through your grief journey, you may relinquish old roles and establish new ones. Surround yourself with people who can listen to you and provide the understanding and encouragement you need. Avoid people who are critical. Comments such as “time heals all wounds” or “you will get over it” or “God only gives us as much as we can handle” may be well-intended, but can be hurtful. Reaching out to others can be difficult. Often finding a support group can be empowering and provide comfort. There is no substitute for learning from others who have experienced the loss of their spouse. Your life will never be the same; but you deserve happiness again.

Portage Health Hospice in collaboration with Northridge Pines Assisted Living Community of Calumet are starting “Good Mourning,” a social bereavement support group that hopes to provide that bridge to help people in their grief journey face their challenges and to enable individuals to learn from others who have lost a spouse. “Good Mourning” will meet the fourth Thursday of each month beginning June 26 at Northridge Pines from 10 a.m. until noon. There is no charge for attending. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, please contact Marianne Berghefer at (906) 483-1160 or Tina Heble at (906) 337-0800.

Editor’s note: Marianne Berghefer is the Hospice Bereavement Coordinator at Portage Health.