Partner or spouse
Losing your husband, wife or partner is one of the most painful experiences in life.
Different feelings after a partner dies
If you lived with your partner the fact that they are not with you is impossible to forget, and losing that companionship is very hard. There’s now an empty space at the table. If you shared a bed, even trying to sleep is a reminder of what you have lost.
Loss of intimacy
Many people find the loss of a physical or sexual relationship hard to bear. It’s understandable to miss the intimacy and closeness of your partner. Talking about this may feel particularly difficult or inappropriate but it can help to do so with someone you trust, or with us. We’re here to help you make sense of these feelings. Find out the ways Cruse can support you.
Feeling someone’s presence
It’s possible to feel like the person who has died is actually with you. You might smell or hear or even see your partner following their death. For some people this can be very reassuring, and for others disturbing. It usually becomes less common and stops over time.
Grief doesn’t just affect our emotions but also affects our health. It’s common to suffer headaches, weight loss, sleep disturbance or fatigue. Resistance to illness may be lowered and you might find yourself more likely to catch minor illnesses. If symptoms persist or you are struggling to cope seek help from your GP. Read more about the physical effects of grieving.
Other changes and losses
The loss of your partner can bring a number of other changes and losses. You face a change of identity from one of a couple to a single person. You may feel pain at the loss of future dreams and how you pictured your life to be in the future. You may face financial difficulties if you have lost a second or primary income and you may have increased family and household responsibility. Sorting out these issues can take a lot of time and energy.
Members of the LGBTQIA+ community may face additional challenges when a partner dies.
When an ex-partner dies
The death of an ex-partner or spouse is a unique and often confusing experience. You may feel shocked, sad, confused or nothing at all. It’s important to allow space for your feelings no matter what they are.
If you had a difficult relationship with your ex partner after your separation you may feel a sense of longing or regret. Maybe you still had feelings for the person but they are in a new relationship, or maybe you felt there was a lot left you would have liked to say to them.
When someone dies, support is often focused on the current partner or children of the person who died. Ex-partners can be left out of the grieving process, even if they were with the person for a long time. This is called “disenfranchised grief.”
You might feel pressure to ‘get out there’ and find someone else. But starting a new relationship is your own choice.
After time has passed you might be ready to introduce someone new into your life. Others do not feel ready for many years, or never. It’s important to make the decision that’s right for you. If you have children you will also want to weigh up what it means for them. What would it mean to introduce someone new into their lives?
What can help
Remember your partner
Even if someone close dies, the memory of them does not die. Your relationship continues even if they’re no longer alive. It can help to think of ways you can keep your partner as part of your life. This might mean organising a special event in their honour or creating a small memorial for them in the home. Learn more.
Get support with children
If you have young children or teenagers at home you can read about how they may react and how to help them in our section for parents and carers.
Anniversaries and reminders
Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and special days can be very difficult after a partner dies. It can help to think in advance about how you are going to manage. Read our tips on coping with special events.
Looking after yourself
It’s important to pay attention to your own health and wellbeing. We can help you with a range of techniques for managing grief.