Grieving the Loss of Your Husband

If you are trying to cope with the death of your husband, you may be experiencing a variety of feelings and wondering what is "normal." Grief is unique to each individual, but there are signs that can tell you when your grief has slipped into a depression. If your husband died recently, you are probably in the throes of grief. For some, this intense period can last quite a while.

Woman Grieving - Masterfile Image

Grief is a natural response to losing someone you love. You may experience a number of difficult emotions—from feeling numb, shocked and sorrowful, to feeling lonely, fearful and guilty that you are still here. You may even be angry at your husband for leaving you.

You might be in pain, both physically and emotionally. Maybe you have trouble sleeping or aren't interested in eating. Maybe you just can't concentrate, or the simplest decisions seem monumental. Though some of your feelings might surprise you, there is no right or wrong way to go through the grieving process.

Psychiatrist and author Elisabeth Kubler-Ross named five stages of grief most people experience:

  1. denial
  2. anger
  3. bargaining
  4. depression
  5. acceptance

Rather than using the model as a script for how people will experience grief, experts today often use it to discuss experiences that people may go through. Some may experience all of these stages, others only some. Some people may experience each of these in order set out by Kubler-Ross, others out of that order. Even time spent in each may differ from person to person.

It may be helpful, then, to think of these not as stages with set identities, but possibilities of how grief can manifest itself. No two people experience grief the same way.

The grief that comes with the loss of a partner can seem overwhelming. You may also feel overwhelmed by the thought of other changes the death has brought or will soon bring to your life, from adjustments in family dynamics, changes to your financial outlook and more.

Coping with Loss

The single most important factor in healing from loss is having the support of others. It is important to express your feelings to those close to you who care. Sharing your burdens makes them easier to bear, so you won't feel so alone in your time of greatest need. Let others help you by listening to your sorrows, assisting with aspects of your daily routine, and even by advising you on some of the tasks your husband usually carried out.

Support groups can help counter some of the loneliness that accompanies grief. Sharing your feelings, worries and concerns with others going through similar experiences can help all parties to feel less alone. Everybody needs a support system when they grieve, and while family and friends are essential, if they haven't experienced close personal loss like yours, they may not fully understand. This is why a support group is such a valuable resource.

Your local hospital, church or counseling center are good places to find details about bereavement support groups in your area. If your grief still feels too heavy, contact a mental health counselor with experience in grief counseling who can help you work through your emotions. Grief can sometimes trigger other psychological issues that can be dealt with through psychotherapy.

Many people find that it is helpful to stay busy. Sometimes helping others can keep your mind off your own sorrow. Do things with friends, volunteer at a local school or hospital, take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Take care of yourself by getting adequate rest and eating well.

By: Betty Holt


National Institute on Aging. Mourning the Death of a Spouse. Available at: Accessed:May 23, 2011.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 11 Sep 2011

Last Modified: 17 Sep 2015