Adjusting to life alone after your husband dies – especially after years of marriage – is one of the most stressful transitions you’ll ever experience. I am so sorry for your loss, and wish I could tell you that you’ll wake up tomorrow feeling happy and healed! But the truth is that your life will never be the same…and neither will you.
In When Your Soul Aches: Hope and Help for Women Who Have Lost Their Husbands, Lois Rabey describes the confusion and devastation she felt after her husband’s death. This book is a thoughtful collection of inspirations and insights about the grieving process as a widow. In the weeks and months following the loss of your husband, you may be numb with shock. Or you may feel overwhelmed by a wide range of heartbreaking and sometimes emotions. Books like this can help you survive the worst of your grief and offer companionship for your journey.
How do you live alone after your husband dies? First, remember that you are not alone. The practical tips and ideas in this article might help you move forward – but even more comforting are the readers’ comments below. You’ll find more help and hope for living alone after your husband’s death in the company of other widows than any blog post or book. Please do read through their comments and stories.
The following ideas for living alone after your husband dies are inspired by a reader. “I miss my husband so much,” says Jan on What to Do When Grief Overwhelms You. “His death is the hardest thing that I have gone through. We were married 44 years. I miss his voice, his loving ways. I feel totally alone. I have two grown sons but nothing or no one can take the place of my husband. I cry almost every day and I don’t know how to live alone. He was my soul mate, my friend and so many other things to me. I feel if my whole world has fallen upside down. I get frightened when I think of the future without my husband.”
Thinking about the future is scary and overwhelming. Instead of getting too far ahead of yourself, try to stay focused on today. What do you need to take care of today? How can you be kind and gentle to yourself? That is a good place to start.
How to Live Alone After Your Husband Dies
These ideas for living alone after the death of a spouse are practical – and they won’t work for everyone. Nothing works for everyone! These are just suggestions that helped other widows cope with the loss of their husbands; they may not meet your needs, but I hope they help you feel less alone.
Take it slowly and be gentle with yourself
Many women rely on their husbands to take care of the car, yard, and even the finances. Husbands are often the “go-to guys” when the dishwasher breaks, the trees need trimming, or the car needs snow tires. I rely on my husband to pay the bills, do the taxes, and even take care of our retirement fund. I know this is a mistake, and that one day I may regret not inserting myself into our financial affairs. I trust my husband and know he’s taking good care of our financial affairs, but I really should know more than I do.
If you’re like me, you may feel hopeless and helpless when you think of certain household chores and financial responsibilities. You may even feel embarrassed because of how little you know about your portfolio, retirement fund, taxes, and so on. Learning all this is a big job – especially when you’re adjusting to life alone after your husband dies. You feel tired, lonely, and overwhelmed with grief. Go slow, and be kind to yourself. Reach out and ask for the help you need.
Consider inviting a new life into your home
Some widows say living alone after their husband’s death is easier when they have a cat or dog to take care of. A pet doesn’t just offer companionship; a dog or even a cat can become the reason to get out of bed and even get out of the house. Dogs and cats can offer life and presence in an empty house, and be companions to women who aren’t used to living alone.
Taking a dog on walks will encourage you to interact with neighbors and get fresh air and exercise. The health benefits – both emotional and physical – of walking a dog include uplifted mood, increased appetite, and reduced feelings of isolation.
If you’ve never had a dog, read Adopting a Dog – Tips for Women Over 60. I wrote it for a grieving widow who asked for help deciding if she should get a pet. She knew she needed help and hope for living alone after her husband’s death but had never owned a dog before. I encouraged her to consider fostering a dog or cat for a short time. This is a good way to learn if a pet is a good idea, and give you something different to focus on.
Talk to friends and family about getting a housemate or tenant
This wouldn’t be my first choice on how to adjust to life alone after my husband dies; I cherish my solitude and space! I’m an introverted writer and I love being alone. But, many women find their homes too empty and quiet after their husband’s death. The silence is deafening, the loneliness too much. Getting a housemate or tenant can fill the emptiness and help you adjust to living without your husband.
Were you socially active before your husband died? You may find living alone much more difficult. Maybe you’re an extrovert who needs conversation and company. Just like fostering or adopting a pet, a short-term rental situation can ease the loneliness and help you cope with living alone after the death of a spouse.
6 Tips for Living Alone After Your Husband’s Death
You may find How to Live Alone After Years of Marriage helpful – especially if you’re struggling spiritually and emotionally.
Here are a few quick tips on how to adjust to life alone when your husband dies:
- Declutter your home, clean out the closets, go through the attic and basement. Ask a friend to help you.
- Rearrange the furniture in your living room and bedroom. This can be a symbol that everything is different now, and help you adjust.
- Lighten up the dark corners and areas; white twinkle lights are a beautiful way to brighten a home.
- Avoid watching the news or other programs that distress or depress you.
- Pay attention to what drains your energy and brings you down. Do less of that – even if it means spending less time with friends and family members you were once close to.
- Find kindred spirits to talk to. You don’t necessarily need to join a grief support group for widows, but it’s important to get the help and hope you need by reaching out to others.
What do you find to be the hardest part of living alone after your husband’s death? Talk to other widows about what you’re experiencing. Maybe you want to talk about your husband more – or maybe you talk to him all the time! Maybe you sense his presence, and don’t really feel like you’re alone.
Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Was your husband’s death expected? What are you most surprised by? Are there any benefits to having the house to yourself?
You might also read Starting Over in Your 60s – After Your Husband Dies. Again, pay attention to the comments section. You are not alone.