After a Spouse Dies

    “After a Spouse Dies,” Ensign, Jan. 2000, 71

    After a Spouse Dies

    When I became a widower, I received a number of helpful suggestions from caring family and friends:

    Guard against discouragement. If you find yourself feeling depressed, do something different. Go for a walk, write a letter, call a loved one, or visit with a cheerful friend. Don’t begin to think you are too old to be needed or useful. A good friend once told me: “I would rather die from a heart attack while helping someone than die while doing nothing!”

    Keep things clean. Few things bring on the doldrums quicker than a messy kitchen, unmade beds, and a cluttered house. Spend needed time each day in sorting clutter, paying bills on time, and doing simple but ongoing household tasks.

    Work through guilt. Most people who lose a spouse deal with nagging thoughts such as “What did I do wrong?” “Why didn’t we take that trip we planned?” “Perhaps if I had retired sooner …” “If only I had gotten him [or her] to the doctor more quickly!” Let it go. You did the best you knew to do at the time. Turn your thoughts to good memories.

    Avoid hurried decisions. Often there is pressure to make hurried decisions, such as selling a house or car, moving, or traveling. Take enough time to carefully consider what is best for you, and don’t allow others to make those decisions.

    Keep photos. It isn’t necessary to put away all remembrances of a loved one. Keep photos and keepsakes on display, and be willing to talk with family and friends about them. If you are willing to discuss old times, others will find it easier to talk with you.

    Care for yourself and others. Reach out to help others, continue enjoyable hobbies and activities, and search out new ways to get involved. Where there is a need and your circumstances allow, you may wish to help contribute financially to the support of missionaries in your ward or in your family. “Adopt” a missionary or two, and write them regularly, especially those who have little support from home.

    Stay active in the Church. In some wards, older members may be given fewer opportunities to serve in traditional callings. This can lead to feelings of no longer being a needed and contributing member of the ward. Stay active anyway, and seek other ways to serve. Accept Church callings that come your way, bear your testimony, read lesson material, offer prayers, and accept each opportunity to contribute. Sometimes a lonely youth needs a special adult friend. Where possible, attend the temple often and spend time doing family history work. If health and other considerations permit, you might check with your bishop about volunteering in one of many needed areas.—Eugene M. Larsen, Arvada, Colorado

    [illustration] Illustrated by Beth M. Whittaker