Elder Q & A
By Rosanne DiStefano
---- — :Q: My husband passed away after a long illness. I try so hard to maintain control of my emotions but there are still days when I find it a challenge. My family thinks I should move back home, others are pressuring me to get involved in outside activities and a few have even had the nerve to ask if I am interested in dating. Is something wrong with me or are people just being insensitive?
A: Just as we are all unique individuals we deal with the death of loved ones in different ways. Some people make a smoother transition through the grieving process than others. There is no way of knowing in advance how we are going to react in the days, months and years following the loss of someone who was once very important in our lives. It is impossible to be completely prepared for the enormous emotions death brings to survivors.
Without question there are those of us who have greater coping skills and are able to move on with their lives once again functioning in a normal manner. They have found a constructive way to come to terms with the finality of death, perhaps drawing from an inner strength and have received support from family members and friends.
Other individuals will struggle for a much longer period and could find their physical and/or emotional health deteriorating during the process. If the situation continues there comes a time when intervention may be advisable either through a group experience or with private counseling services.
Bereavement support groups offer an opportunity to talk about the grief experience with other people who have “been there” and know personally the challenges of finding a way to continue with their life. Many attendees describe the group as a safe place where they can attempt to verbalize their feelings, fears and pain without the worry of someone passing judgment. There are always going to be individuals who don’t feel comfortable talking in front of a group and frankly would find listening to the pain of others more than they can handle. One-on-one therapy with a qualified grief counselor may be a much more preferable environment.
Family and friends sometimes stop listening without realizing the remaining spouse continues to be in need of compassion and understanding. People most likely have the best of intentions but remember they are on the outside looking in and cannot comprehend how your husband’s death has impacted you. Take care of yourself and look for the resources that will meet your needs.
Do you have a question? We encourage inquiries and comments from our readers. Direct correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. 360 Merrimack Street B#5, Lawrence, MA 01843. Rosanne DiStefano is the Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. For additional information or to schedule an appointment call 1-800-892-0890.