What’s your deepest fear? For many of us, it’s losing our spouse. Our spouse is often much more than our daily companion. He or she is our best friend, love of our life, business partner, soul mate, closest traveler, and so much more.
If you’re like many people, supposedly rational beings, you push it away. Banished the thought to the nether regions. Deny it airtime. Avoid it like the plague. Pretend that if we don’t think about it, it won’t happen.
Sadly, as we already know, this approach—is futile.
If you’re having trouble understanding or coping with feelings, here are six ways experts advise to help manage the fear of losing your spouse.
Reading books about how others cope is a wonderful way to explore feelings, open up to your experience, and find relief from feelings of isolation.
Books by authors such as David Kessler, a grief expert, lecturer and writer at Grief.com may provide insight and ideas for valuable coping tips.
Grief Resources and Support is available from many organizations, including the University of Michigan’s podcasts, online materials and resources.
Jane Duncan Rogers writes about her story in Gifted by Grief: A True Story of Cancer, Loss and Rebirth. In her writings, she explores how to prepare well for the ending of lives, whether our spouses or our own.
Sharing her experiences, Jane writes about managing the fear of losing her husband, losing him, and finding love some years later. In this process, she shares 3 tips to manage the fear.
Simply, acknowledge that your partner might die before you. It might seem odd or unusual. Yet, it reduces the pressure. If we try to push the facts away, it seems to linger and demand more attention. By acknowledging the possibility, we can recognize this is one possible outcome.
Jane Duncan Rodgers compares feelings to a guest at the door. When a guest knocks at the door, even if we don’t like it—it’s our job to open the door. Welcome the feelings.
This is challenging especially as these feelings may be unusual or new. They may range from challenging, to unpredictable, to difficult. Anger. Rage. Fear. Fury. Worry. Depression. Insecurity. Grief.
But as experts advise, letting feelings in is the first part…letting them go is the next.
Feelings, like guests, do not stick around forever. They come. And, they go.
Keeping an open heart is an ongoing practice. It often comes about in mindfulness practices, and meditation. Whether you prefer sitting meditation or moving meditation is a matter of personal preference.
Interestingly, moving meditations such as yoga and Tai Chi, can help with keeping an open heart—and boosting your immune system. As you gain balance, flexibility, and agility of body, you may also find a similar increase of ease in feeling.
Many experts in grieving suggest that writing is a useful way to explore feelings. If you are experiencing fear of losing your spouse, consider this as an avenue to explore.
Writing provides a private space to explore feelings.
Things that may seem difficult to speak about often find expression in writing. Many people find relief through the self-expression of journaling. This may be journaling feelings of gratitude about your spouse, life, and experiences. It may be reflecting on how to feel the feelings that are lingering that seem taboo.
By giving yourself time and space to write, you’re honoring yourself. You’re making room for self-reflection.
For many people, exploring feelings is easier in a non-verbal, non-linguistic medium. This may be painting, collage, sewing or clay. If expressing yourself creatively is appealing to you, give yourself room to try out different methods and mediums.
It’s not about creating a perfect art piece. This is a great way to channel emotions, feelings, and imaginations into a different expression.
In addition to the tips offered, you may want to explore your feelings in a support group. This could be an informal group organized in your community. Or it may be a group or individual session with a counselor.
If you’re finding it difficult to get clarity, you may want to talk with a professional therapist. If you’re struggling with anxiety, fear, worries that seem to not go away, do consider speaking with a trained mental health professional, counselor ,or therapist.
Prayer is a source of comfort, preparation, and treasury for those times when we run up against the fearfulness of death. Whether we are actively religious or not, prayer offers a way to find a sense of meaning, peace, and perspective.
Depending on your personal beliefs, prayer may be a direct means of finding comfort in any fear or anxiety.
The #1 Key Idea: Open Up About Your Feelings
If you’re concerned about losing your spouse, you can reduce stress through learning about grief, and expressing your feelings. As you explore what works best for you, take the time to discover what works best for you. As you pick the methods that you find most helpful, you’ll open up about your feelings—and build your inner resources.