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Grief from losing a spouse is number 1 of 10 major stressful life events that we will encounter in our lifetime, according to The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale.
Last month Duane “Dog” Chapman, shared his supervisors told him “He needed to man up” after his Beth Chapman’s death. While grieving, he is trying to live up to others’ expectations.
In reality, Duane needs to do just the opposite.
The Five Stages of Grief
Whether he realizes it or not, Duane “Dog” Chapman has just started the grief process. Furthermore, there is no end in sight anytime soon.
There are 5 stages of grief:
An excellent book that helped me after I lost my husband is the infamous book by Elisabeth Kuebler Ross. This book explains the grief stages and cycles in great detail.
An amazing resource that explains the grief cycle.
Regrettably, I can relate to what Dog experienced when he first went home without Beth from the hospital.
Sadly, I lost my husband 14 ago from Congestive Heart Failure.
Similarly, I remember the stillness of the house when I returned after his death.
Households are chaotic when there is illness in the family. Houses are filled with noise, chaos, frustrations and sometimes, noisy machines.
After a death, the quiet and stillness of the house are deafening.
Now, there is no one to talk to. It’s quiet. You feel lost.
When the public was made aware of Duane’s “first date” is bothersome. Not because of the cameras and the media. Or even the pictures of Duane and another woman.
More importantly, it is none of the public’s business how Duane is processing his grief.
Being a caregiver is an all-consuming job. Moreso, being a caregiver and losing a spouse is much harder on men than women. Why?
Because men depend more on their wives that what they realize and they have a much harder time dealing with grief.
No matter how much preparation goes into losing a spouse, it is never enough, as Dog explains here in this video on YouTube.
Grief and A Loss For Words
Compelling enough, people don’t know what to say after a loss.
Interestingly, this is when foolish comments are made. Such as:
- “Man Up”
- “Now you can focus on yourself”
- “They are in a better place”
- “Now you are the man of the house” – told to my 7-year-old. Seriously?
- “Take care of your mom” – told to my 7-year-old. Again, seriously?
- “I know how you feel”
- “Give it time – it will get easier”
- “At least they didn’t have to suffer like…”
- “You can get remarried someday”
- “You’re a strong person – you will be ok”
The best thing people can say do to someone after a loss is: NOTHING!
More importantly, just hug them and be there for them. Help them. Do they have kids? Babysit for them. Do they work? Clean their house. You get the idea.
Creating Your “New Normal”
It will be years before a spouse will begin to feel normal again. When I was in therapy, I learned as time goes on new family traditions can be created to start the path of new beginnings.
The life you once knew is no longer and new traditions and adjustments need to be made. This will not come overnight.
Again – this is going be years in the making.
Here are some of the things I did to create our “New Normal” after my husband’s death:
- Going to a movie on Christmas Day
- Embracing shopping at the grocery store is different
- Starting new traditions
- Getting a new pet does wonders for the soul
- Discover your hobbies and passions
There is not a time frame for grief. It also depends on the relationship of the deceased. The stronger the bonds – the longer the grief process will be.
If you are grieving, try not to be so hard on yourself. Realize it is perfectly OK if you want to “check” out of daily life for a day or two until you get your thoughts together.
Facing your emotions will be similar to that rollercoaster for the next few months or years.
As a gift to you, please sign up to receive 10 Simple Grief Quotes to Calm Your Mind. This is super simple to print and hang it up anywhere to keep you grounded.