20 Things People Do Completely Wrong After Losing a Spouse

When you lose your spouse, it’s like your whole life is being turned upside down and reshaped. Many people find themselves lost and confused in unfamiliar territory during this time of loss. Because of this, they struggle to find the proper coping mechanisms that will help them move on from their grief. However, while it’s important to know what those healthy coping mechanisms are, it’s equally important to understand the common pitfalls or things you must avoid when you lose your spouse so you can avoid prolonging your emotional distress, loneliness, and fatigue.

Turning a Blind Eye to Your and Your Family’s Sorrow, Grief, and Pain

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When we lose someone who was a big part of us, we tend to shut down and refuse to believe our new reality. Because of this, we turn a blind eye and try to avoid acknowledging our grief and the grief of the people around us. However, doing so will only make it harder for you to accept things and move on. For you to heal, you need to acknowledge the pain and everything that comes with it; doing otherwise will only get you and your family stuck in never-ending sadness and loneliness.

Spending Too Much Time Alone

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When we isolate ourselves after the death of our loved ones, we heighten our feelings of grief and loneliness. After all, we need people to support and guide us through our loss. Verywell Mind states, “People are social creatures, and lacking support and contact with others can contribute to loneliness, cognitive decline, anxiety, and depression.”

Pushing Yourself Too Far

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While grieving, your mental, emotional, and physical states are already at an imbalance. So, while you feel the need to be on top of everything during your spouse’s funeral or wake, remember that you, too, need rest. If you keep over-exerting yourself or pushing yourself too far, you can heighten the probability of sustaining mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. This is when you need help and support from others, so don’t be afraid to ask for it!

Burying Your Memories With Your Loved One

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We get it; losing your partner in life can be one of the most painful things one can go through. Even so, don’t try to block your memories with them, as doing so will only impede your healing process and prolong your grief. You may think these suppressed memories are doing you good, but in reality, eventually, these memories can come back to bite you. They may cause debilitating psychological problems such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, and more.

Being Too Hasty by Rushing into Making Major Decisions

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Impulsiveness is something you want to avoid while you’re in the grieving process. When you’re too hasty or when you rush into things, you might not be able to think of possible consequences that may affect you or your family in the future. So, when you’re put in this position, remember to carefully evaluate and consider your options, seek advice when needed, and take the time to make informed, well-thought-out decisions.

Trying to Evade Your Responsibilities

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Though you shouldn’t rush into things, it’s also important to not shy away from your responsibilities. When you try to avoid and evade these responsibilities, you may miss several opportunities for growth for both you and the people who rely on you. Losing your spouse may have turned your life upside down, but it doesn’t always have to be this way.

Forgetting to Care For Yourself

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When others say that people can die from a broken heart, they’re not 100% lying. In fact, an article from the National Library of Medicine states, “Particularly in the immediate weeks and months after the loss, bereavement is associated with a significantly increased risk of morbidity and mortality.” Grief and its impact can be so detrimental that you’re unable to function normally and care for yourself. This is why you must always put yourself at the top of your priority list.

Procrastinating When It Comes to Legal Financial Duties

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It’s important not to procrastinate when it comes to legal financial duties, especially after a spouse’s death. Delaying tasks such as estate settlement or reports to Social Security can make the grieving process longer and more complex. Neglecting these responsibilities could also cause legal complications or financial instability for oneself and any dependents, so it’s crucial to take care of these tasks promptly to avoid unnecessary stress.

Wrestling With the Guilt of Moving on Without Them

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Moving on is a normal part of life, grief, and loss. Even so, one of the first emotions one usually feels when they start moving on is guilt. When we find ourselves laughing or smiling, we immediately ask ourselves why we’re doing so or if we even have the right to do so. No matter how hard it is, you need to accept that life goes on; you don’t need to be guilty about the fact that you’re smiling or laughing, as your spouse surely wants you to be happy—with or without them.

Jumping Into a New Relationship Too Soon

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Starting a new relationship with someone after their spouse’s death is normal; there’s nothing wrong with it. However, it’s the timing that always gets questioned. After all, some people jump into a relationship just a few short months after their spouse’s death, impeding the healing process for other members of the family and quite possibly for them, too. However, remember that there is no “right” time to start dating again after loss; you’ll know in your heart if you and your family members are ready or not.

Not Putting Importance on Your Mental Well-Being

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One’s mental health can easily be put on the back burner while a person is experiencing grief. They’re going through a lot and caring for many things and people, especially if they have kids. However, you should always prioritize your well-being, especially your mental health. A challenging time like the death of a spouse is when your sorrow, distress, and pain are heightened, making you more susceptible to mental health issues.

Putting Your Physical Health and Wellness Aside

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Neglecting your physical health after the death of your spouse can make dealing with grief even more challenging. Doing so may increase stress, fatigue, and susceptibility to illnesses. Therefore, taking care of your body by eating healthy food, engaging in physical activities, and getting sufficient rest is crucial for enhancing your emotional well-being.

Turning Your Back on Your Spiritual Beliefs

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When support from the people around you no longer helps, you must hold onto faith for guidance and comfort. If you turn your back on your religious beliefs during these trying times, you might find it harder to cope and accept your new reality. It’s normal to question your beliefs and faith and why this tragedy happened to you. However, remember that holding onto faith will help you fill the emptiness and void in your life.

Being Impractical and Unrealistic

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It’s important to be practical and realistic when dealing with the loss of a spouse. If you have unrealistic expectations, like thinking you will feel better right away or avoiding the reality of the loss, it can make things harder for you. Additionally, this mindset and practice can slow down your healing process, making you feel confused and lost for longer. So, instead of being impractical and unrealistic, face the reality of the situation, be patient with yourself, and do all you can to work through your grief.

Pushing Aside Your Legal Obligations

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Taking care of and processing legal responsibilities after your spouse passes away is very important. This includes updating necessary paperwork and sorting out their estate. For example, if you don’t update things like insurance policies on time, someone else might get the money meant for you or your family. It’s also important to deal with their will and other legal matters quickly to avoid arguments among family members or delays in getting things sorted out.

Skimping on Adequate and Much-Needed Sleep and Rest

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Not getting enough sleep and rest after your spouse passes away can be detrimental to your healing process. In more ways than one, it can make you more sensitive, preventing you from properly dealing with your emotions. Additionally, you might find it harder to think clearly or make appropriate decisions when tired and fatigued. Because of this, taking the time to rest and sleep is vital to making you feel better—both emotionally and physically—during these trying times.

Handling Your Late Spouse’s Belongings Haphazardly

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It’s important to carefully handle your late spouse’s belongings and organize them properly. Throwing things around without any plan or order can make it hard to find important items or remember sentimental belongings. Aside from that, you might regret some of the stuff you throw or give away after having time to think and reflect.

Getting Too Caught up in Social Media

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Social media can lead you down a rabbit hole of negative emotions, especially when grieving. According to Pierce Mortuary Colleges, “For someone working through the grieving process, being reminded of the person on social media can make the process harder to process. This might include seeing posts about the person or even purposely paging back through their loved one’s profiles repeatedly.” So, though it could be tempting to distract yourself with social media, opt for a break or detox so you can be in the right mindset before you start scrolling again.

Being Indifferent to Your Environment or Your Family’s Home

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When we are in a state of grief, it’s easy to become indifferent toward our surroundings. After all, it can be challenging to continue with our daily routines, such as taking care of our homes or managing our responsibilities, mainly because we don’t want to be reminded of our spouse who has just passed away. However, if we allow this indifference to persist for too long, it may lead to a lack of comfort for ourselves and others around us. Give yourself time, but also be mindful of how you affect others and your surroundings.

Not Setting a Realistic and Doable Budget for Funeral Costs and More

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Overspending is a common issue for funerals and wakes. When you don’t budget properly, you might find yourself lost about where to get the funds you need. This situation can increase stress and financial difficulties during an already difficult time.

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Author: Karen Danao


Karen is a writer and also a marketing and advertising professional. Beyond the keyboard and the screen, she is someone who’s out to enjoy every bit that life has to offer!

Poetry, philosophy, history, and movies are all topics she loves writing about! However, her true passion is in traveling, photography, and finding common ground to which everyone from different cultures can relate.