Coping with the loss of an ex can be a challenging journey. Those first three months were agonizing. I was dealing with an onslaught of emotions that surprised me while trying to juggle helping the kids through a very difficult time too. I came up with this guide to help manage your grief and cope with the first three months after their passing. Here are some common experiences that you may expect during the first three months after an ex spouse’s passing:
Emotions After the Loss of an Ex
I could not imagine the onslaught of emotions that would hit. Knowing my ex and I would never be able to get to a better coparenting place. Feeling this intense feeling of responsibility for raising the kids. Wondering how I would make it. Worrying that if I was feeling all of these crazy emotions how in the world would I get the kids through this? They were probably feeling even more than I was! How would I help them? What would help them?
One of the most important things to remember in navigating the first three months after the loss of an ex-partner is that it’s perfectly normal to grieve. Allow yourself to feel all of the emotions that come with losing someone you once shared a connection with. This could include sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, and more. Don’t try to hold back or suppress your emotions as doing so can be detrimental to your mental health in the long run. Instead, allow yourself time and space to grieve in a way that feels right for you.
The stress after finding my ex had passed away caused me to loose 17 pounds in under two weeks time. I also suffer from colitis symptoms, so stress plays a big toll on my body physically.
Grief can manifest physically as well, causing symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, and physical pain.
I could vividly remember so many people reaching out to us. Everyone wanted to help. Bring a meal. But we couldn’t eat. We couldn’t sleep. Time seemed to have stopped for our family while somehow still moving on. It was a surreal feeling of numbness. We just felt…different. And with that came some social withdrawal.
What is social withdrawal? This kind of withdrawal is a need to withdraw from social situations, including friends, family, and even work as you process the loss of an ex.
Change in Routine
I think my family learned this in the divorce. But I also learned this after the loss of my ex. We learned that things just won’t be the same again after a big change or loss.
Those first few months it may be difficult to maintain regular daily routines, such as eating and sleeping habits, especially during the first few weeks after the loss.
The children and I slept on the couch for a few weeks, too scared and sad to sleep in bed. Eventually they moved back to their bedrooms and life took on a new normal. But it took awhile and I can’t say that we’ve ever gone back to the same routines we did before.
Reflection on the Past
I can remember when my exes parents invited me over to his townhome after he died to help clean it out and go through the kids things. As we cleaned out his house I came across albums of pictures of the family and I from before our divorce. I found Items like the wagon we shared for soccer Saturdays hanging in the garage rafters. It just hurt…but was also a reflection of better times too.
The loss of an ex spouse may bring up memories of the past, both positive and negative, and prompt reflection on your relationship. And that’s okay! Let it hurt, be okay to laugh a little, or reflect.
Helps for Getting Through Those First Three Months
Practice Self Care and Maintain Healthy Routines
During this difficult time, it’s important to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally. Self-care activities like exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep can help you maintain a sense of routine and structure in your life. Additionally, make time for activities that bring you joy such as reading or watching a movie. Grief can be mentally and physically exhausting so giving yourself permission to rest and recharge can be helpful. Remember to be patient with yourself as the grieving process is different for everyone.
If this sounds too good to be true it might be. At first I had to adapt my daily runs from outdoor runs to running around the interior of our house…just so the kids didn’t freak out when I left the home. Over time I slowly started running outdoors again. But remember that self care always looks different at different stages of life. When the kids were younger sometimes going to the mailbox to get the mail in peace and quiet for a minute or two were my ‘self care’ moments. For awhile after my exes passing, I couldn’t eat. My colitis wouldn’t allow me to. So food and eating looked very different. It wasn’t as much about nourishing my body with great food as it was celebrating those moments I could keep anything down. It will pass, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you can only do what you can do for awhile.
Seek professional help if needed
It’s important to acknowledge that grief can be a complex and overwhelming emotion. Some people may find it difficult to manage their feelings and cope with the loss of a loved one. Seeking professional help, such as therapy or counseling, can be valuable in helping you navigate your emotions during this challenging time. Professional mental health support can provide you with a safe space to process your emotions and develop coping strategies for moving forward.
Seek out supportive relationships
Going through the grieving process alone can be incredibly challenging. Seek out supportive relationships to help you cope with the loss of your ex-partner. Lean on friends and family members who can provide a listening ear, a comforting shoulder to cry on, or just some much-needed distraction from your grief. You may also find it helpful to join a support group specifically for individuals who have lost an ex-partner. Talking with others who are going through a similar experience can be incredibly validating and provide you with the sense of connection and understanding that is necessary for healthy grieving. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help when you need it.
Honor the memories and maintain a positive outlook towards the future
While grieving the loss of an ex-partner can be a difficult experience, it’s important to remember and honor the memories you shared together. Take time to reflect on the positive experiences you had, and how they influenced your personal growth. However, it’s equally essential to maintain a positive outlook towards the future, even though it may seem daunting at first. Focus on developing new hobbies or relationships, pursuing your goals and aspirations, and spending time with loved ones who support your healing journey. Remember that everyone heals at their own pace, so give yourself the time and patience you need to recover emotionally.