When you lose a spouse, you will never recover from it or get over it, and that’s okay. Instead of moving on, you’ll find new ways to cope and live with the loss. At some point in your grieving process, you may decide you need a change. While some people opt for a drastic haircut, other people go bigger and get a new pet, move to a new home, or get a tattoo.
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A New Pet
Getting a pet after you lose a spouse can provide you with a companion, which is great if you’re feeling lonely. Additionally, pets increase levels of dopamine (the feel-good brain chemical) and levels of oxytocin (the love hormone), which increases feelings of self-esteem, optimism, and trust. Pets can also decrease levels of cortisol, which can lower stress.
Since dogs require daily walks, having one can encourage exercise. Exercise is a great coping mechanism, as it reduces stress, boosts mood, improve self-confidence, alleviates anxiety, and improves relaxation. Dogs can also offer an opportunity to make new social connections if you take your dog to the park or to training classes.
Cats are a good option if you’re looking for a little less responsibility but still want a new companion. While they’re affectionate, cats are more independent than dogs and don’t require daily walks. Furthermore, studies have shown that cat owners are less likely to be at risk for stroke than any other pet owner.
A New House
Losing a spouse sometimes prompts people to move. Some people cannot afford their home once a spouse dies. If your spouse earned a higher income, this may be the case. Others just don’t like being alone in a larger home, wish to be closer to living family members and friends, want a home with less work, or just want a fresh start.
No matter why you choose to move, ensure that you’ve thoroughly thought through the decision. Don’t move because other people are pressuring you to do so. Experts recommend waiting six months to one year before making the decision to move; you want to make sure you’re making the decision rationally and not off of emotions.
If you reach the decision to move, you’ll likely sort through your spouse’s items while you’re packing. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend or loved one for assistance in this emotional endeavor. Plan ahead by picking a day when you can take your time and have the next day to rest. You may decide at this point to pass along family heirlooms. While you’re packing and sorting, be sure to properly handle and preserve heirlooms to protect the items from damage.
Instead of moving to a new home, consider making changes to your current home. Some minor remodeling ideas can change the feel of your home but aren’t too involved. For example, you can repaint all the rooms in your home, change out your bedding and curtains in your bedroom, or paint your kitchen cabinets. For more involved projects that really change the look of your home, you can expand your master bedroom, re-stain your hardwood floors or replace carpeting, or completely remodel your kitchen.
A New Tattoo
After losing someone, people find comfort in creative outlets, such as writing poetry or a song. Some people use art created by others to honor a loved one. For example, creating a memory stone for the garden or incorporating ashes into a piece of jewelry. A memorial tattoo is another example.
Memorial tattoos are an outward expression of grief that portray feelings of loss and provide a connection to the person who was lost. Many people feel it keeps the memory of their spouse alive because people will often strike up questions about tattoos in a conversation. “Through the tattoo, the invitation is open to continue talking about our loved one, the meaning that he or she had in our life, and how this individual continues to impact us,” says DyingWords.
If you decide you need a big change after losing your spouse, take the time to think it over. Sometimes the shock of losing a loved can cloud judgment and decision making can be difficult. When made in the right frame of mind, major changes can sometimes be the shift we need to help us move forward after suffering such a painful loss.
This article was posted with permission from author Jackie Waters, who has her own blog, which can be found here: blog