All Woman

On losing a spouse

Donna Hussey-Whyte

Monday, August 20, 2012    

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LOSING a spouse is never easy. In fact, counsellors have likened the trauma of a break-up to that of a loss through death.

Experts say after a loss, some people withdraw into themselves and do not allow themselves to be involved in another long-term relationship. Some others who do get involved again, never really resume the trust. Others get help through counselling.

Clinical psychologist Dr Charles Carr said there are stages that the hurting partner goes through.

He explained these five stages as:

1. Denial: You deny that the person is actually gone for good.

2. Anger: You begin to go through a state of anger, especially with the other person for leaving.

3: Bargaining. You want to run back to the person and bargain with them to take you back, promising to change things if only they would.

4: Depression. Reality begins to set in and you realise that all is indeed lost so you begin to fall into a state of depression.

5: Acceptance. Now that reality has set in, you begin to accept the fact that the person will no longer be coming back and begin to move forward with your life.

"When we have a loss of any kind, we will probably go through these five stages of grief," Dr Carr noted. "Often, we will not go through them in order. We may skip one, we may get stuck on one, or we may reach a stage and then fall back to a lower stage. However, we will eventually go through all of the stages prior to reaching an acceptance. And, reaching acceptance does not mean that we will forget the hurt and pain we have gone through."

He warned, however, that not dealing with a loss or getting stuck in a level can cause persons to take drastic steps. This may be manifested in the person hurting themselves, which is most common, or in hurting the person that hurt them. This could be the spouse or the new lover.

Family Life Ministries counsellor Cathy Roberts said going through the process is not easy.

"This process doesn't happen overnight and may take years to accomplish," Roberts said of the acceptance stage. "This is when anger, sadness and mourning slowly disappear and the grieving individual simply accepts the reality of the loss."

In order to get to the stage of acceptance persons should:

1. Realise that grief is a normal reaction to a loss.

2. Understand the process of grief.

3. If you get stuck at a level, you may need to consult a therapist to help you deal with that stage.

4. Have a strong support group and use it.

5. Keep busy! Do not allow yourself to become locked in your house. Find things to keep you busy. This will help to keep you from becoming clinically depressed.

6. Do not look for a new relationship until you are certain you are through with the old one and have dealt with the loss.

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