February 4

Life After Loss: How to Reconnect with the World After Losing a Spouse


Are you struggling to reconnect with the world after the death of your spouse?

Losing your life partner is earth-shattering. You can’t believe they are gone. You spend weeks or months trying to make sense of the loss, and you’re struggling to keep up with life’s responsibilities like balancing the checkbook. 

Eventually, you find your new “normal,” and you feel like you’re ready to find joy in life again — but how? Let us show you some things you can do to help you move on when you’re ready to take that step.

Life After Loss: How to Reconnect with the World After Losing a Spouse

Grief is not a linear process, and you’ll find yourself flowing through the 5 stages of grief in no particular order. You might even find yourself repeating the same stages over and over again. Grief never really goes away, but it becomes much easier to manage as time continues on. The best way to reconnect with the world is to start doing the things you love again.

There are going to be days when you don’t want to get out of bed. The thought of dealing with people makes your skin crawl — and that’s ok. Recognize those feelings, give yourself a pep talk, and do it anyways. Everything in life gets easier with practice.

The more you force yourself to complete chores, socialize, and leave the house, the easier it gets. You are not alone, and you deserve to find happiness in life again. Give yourself permission to go out into the world and find it.

1. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is the best gift you can give yourself when grieving. You will feel better, physically, and mentally when your needs are met. Get plenty of sleep, eat healthy foods, take vitamins, shower, and make time to socialize with loved ones when you’re feeling lonely. Be honest with yourself about what you need and allow yourself to have it. 

2. Take it Slow

Don’t rush the healing process. Pushing yourself too far too fast will cause you to burn out emotionally and backslide. Trust your instincts. You’ll know when it’s time to get back out there and find your purpose in life again.

3. Be Kind to Yourself

It’s easy to beat yourself up when you’re having a down day. You have a thousand things on your to-do list, but you were too depressed to get out of bed and accomplish anything. Now you feel miserable and like a waste of space — but you’re not. Don’t believe the lies that depression and grief tell you. Remind yourself that you are loved, you are important, and it’s ok to have a down day now and then.

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4. Don’t Get Discouraged

Down days happen to everyone, so don’t get discouraged. Time will pass, and you won’t feel this way forever. You’ll always miss your spouse, and they’ll always have a special place in your heart and your memories, but your story isn’t over yet. You still have a life to live and a world to explore. Your life is waiting for you whenever you’re ready to start living it again.

5. Join a Support Group

Surround yourself with people who have experienced a similar loss. Support groups are perfect for when you feel ready to socialize again. It can be challenging spending time with people who haven’t been through what you have. Members of a support group will get you in a way that others just can’t. 

They are familiar with the pain and the rollercoaster of highs and lows. Support groups are a safe place for you to feel what you feel, and they are a great source of information for learning how to cope with your grief.

Recommended Reading: Reconnecting to Life After Loss of Loved One

6. Take Care of Bills

The last thing you want to do when you’re grieving is managing your finances and paying bills. If your spouse always took care of it for you, that can make it even more challenging to handle. Consider hiring a professional to manage your finances for you, so it’s one less thing you have to worry about. The more you can lighten your load, the better.

7. Handle Insurance Changes

Check all of your policies for health, dental, vision, auto, home, and any other insurance policies you purchased with your spouse. Changes will need to be made depending on your unique situation. You are going to need to start new policies for yourself if your spouse was the policyholder or the insurance was purchased through their employer. 

Check to see if you qualify for Medicaid or if you need to purchase new health insurance.

8. Put Joint Property in Your Name

Did you and your spouse own property or automobiles that were in both your names? 

You will need to provide the lenders with notification of your spouse’s passing and have them put into your name. This includes any other property you might have cosigned on together as well.

9. Write a New Will and Advance Directive

Changes would need to be made to your Will and Advance Directive if they included your spouse. You will need to decide what to do with your assets and property and select a new emergency contact on your Advance Directive. Don’t put these decisions off for too long. It’s important to take care of them as soon as you feel you can handle it.

10. Reconnect With Your Friends

Avoiding your loved ones is common when you’re grieving. How can you spend time hanging out with your friends when you lost the love of your life? You don’t feel like making small talk, and nothing seems more important than your loss.

Eventually, you will need to reconnect with your friends again. Start slow and suggest activities that don’t involve much talking. Go to the movies, horseback riding, see a concert or anything that gets you spending time together in a situation where you feel comfortable.

11. Spend Time With Family

Spending time with your family is just as important as spending time with your friends. Visit with your kids, grandkids, or other relatives you are close to. You can take them to do similar activities that avoid awkward talks. Your family won’t care what you do when you’re together. They will be happy just spending time with you.

Recommended Reading: How to Help a Grieving Parent When Their Spouse is Gone

12. Babysit

Kids can put a smile on your face and give you a new perspective on life in unexpected ways. Offer to babysit your grandkids and take them somewhere fun. A trip to the zoo, library, or park would do you and them a lot of good. They will enjoy the time they spend with you, and you’ll have new memories to keep you company on lonely nights.

13. Start a Hobby

An enjoyable hobby gives you something to occupy your mind, and completing projects is very rewarding. Pick up crocheting, knitting, photography, writing, puzzles, or any hobby of your choosing. Seek out groups or clubs centered around your hobby and attend the meetings. Hobbies make excellent ice breakers and are perfect ways to connect with people who have similar interests.

14. Try Yoga

Yoga has numerous physical and mental health benefits. The meditative aspect of yoga is therapeutic for people coping with grief or struggling with depression. Take a beginner’s class and give it a try. You might be amazed at the difference it makes in your life. Visit several studios and test them out until you find your favorite one. 

15. Volunteer

Get out and volunteer when you’re going stir crazy and feel the need to do something that has meaning. You can sign up for shifts at the homeless shelters, charity organizations, and animal shelters in your area. Find a cause that you feel good about supporting and donate your time to it.

16. Go on a Date

Dating is probably the furthest thing from your mind right now, but at some point, you should put yourself back out there. Your life doesn’t have to stop because your spouse is gone. Permit yourself to love again, and when you’re ready, take that step.

Start slow and forgive yourself for any embarrassing or awkward moments. Depending on how long you were married, dating might seem foreign to you. Don’t worry. It’ll come back to you with practice. The important thing to keep in mind is not to rush it. Take your time and don’t force yourself to start dating until you feel like you’re truly ready.

17. Keep Learning

Grieving takes time, and how much time it takes is different for everyone. Be patient. Breathe. Allow yourself to feel what you’re feeling and know that everything is going to be ok. You are strong, and you are going to get through this. Take things one day at a time and be kind to yourself when you have a bad day. It will get better. The more you learn about grief and how to cope with it, the easier things will become. 

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Navigating life after 50 can be complex for you and your loved ones. We're here to help with tips, advice, and answers to questions. When you sign up for our newsletter, we'll let you know by email when we publish new articles that can help you.

About the author

Amy Natt, MS, CMC, CSA

President & CEO, Aging Life Care™ Manager

“I am dedicated to working with older adults and their families to maintain dignity and enhance their quality of life.”