Q: My wife of 50 years recently died. I’m sort of at a loss for how to grieve.
A: Grief is a uniquely individual experience. The support of family, friends, church, colleagues, and neighbors are invaluable. Permit yourself to share the story of your marriage, to process your feelings out loud, to receive the physical presence and touch of others, to hear prayers on your behalf, and to hear treasured stories and memories about your wife.
Spend time alone as well as be with others, cry or feel numb, smile and even laugh at great memories, talk about your wife or not, and carry on with daily living activities. Make simple plans for going out with friends or family for meals or outings.
Recovering from such a loss is a meandering rather than linear journey. Those who care will want to be available to you, but they may need some clear direction as to what you desire and need. Think about what might help you feel relief and seek that from others- such as meeting weekly for coffee, Sunday lunch after church, company when running errands, joining in with family activities or family events of friends.
Consider looking for ways to help others. Focusing on their needs can provide pain relief. Scripture narrative reminds us that remembrance and celebration are commanded by God.
Explore meaningful ways to remember and celebrate the life of your wife and the marriage relationship you both shared: create a special photo book, journal on vacation memories, design and dedicate a Christmas ornament that can be given to family members, record your marriage story and share with family, in an artful way create a marriage timeline that gives a visual of important events, make a donation or volunteer with an organization or ministry that your wife valued, adopt a Christmas angel that shares your wife’s name, sponsor a child somewhere in the world that shares her name, visit a park and retrace the path the two of you walked together.
Allow your grief to be filled with meaning and celebration.