Adapting to a Changed Life

Dr. Kenneth J. Doka wrote the following:

While the loss of a spouse is an extraordinarily difficult experience, it is important to reaffirm that you can find life – a changed life, but life nevertheless – beyond that loss. Dr. Catherine Sanders, a psychologist and widow who studied spousal bereavement, suggested three questions that can guide you in that journey.

What do you want to take from your old life into your new life? Perhaps there are memories you want to retain or even objects that remind you of the person who died. You may want to recapture the joy and confidence you once had. Perhaps there are relationships that you want to preserve and carry forth.

What do you want to leave behind? As you adapt to a changed life, there may be pieces you do not wish to bring. These may be feelings such as anger or guilt that you still struggle with in your journey through grief. Perhaps there are memories or images that you have yet to explore and to release. There may be relationships that no longer seem significant, meaningful, or constructive.

What do you need to add? As you move into a new life, you may need to develop different skills that you now will need to survive alone. You may need to develop new relationships, interests, or support.

Even in loss, Sanders stressed there are choices. But ultimately the choice is whether you will choose to survive, perhaps even, as difficult as it seems now, thrive in this now changed life.


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