Adjusting After Our Person Has Died

By Barbara Karnes

We think of grief as mourning, of our emotional reaction to a loss. The tears, the “I miss her so much,” the sadness she is no longer with you. Grief is sadness. For some, it may be a relief that someone or something is no longer a part of our life.  We don’t just grieve for those we care about. We grieve for people we are challenged by also.

Another component when experiencing the death of someone close to us is learning how to live without that person. The component that extends beyond the emotional and into the physical, day to day life experiences. The adjusting to a new way of living, of figuring out how to be productive with this person no longer in our life.

For husband and wife, partners, or any other people living together like a parents and child or friends, our entire daily routine changes. Adjustments have to be made. Habits changed. How do I cook for just one? What do I do with all this time that I used to fill with caregiving? The "you mean I really get to watch the show I want?"

If the person we lost lived somewhere other than with us, the forced change is still there, it's just not as intense. There will still be the “we always phoned each other on Wednesday,” and the “He didn’t get to know about ______.” Thoughts and habits are displaced. We react to those changes, those habits that are missing. Our person is gone.

It is a challenging part of life, both emotionally and physically, to figure out how to live productively when this person is no longer with us.

How do we learn to adjust to living without our special person? Grief is so individualized that there really aren’t specific outlines, no step one, step two, step three, to adjust to a new way of living. We will each find our own way, or not. Our personality and how we have dealt with other life challenges will determine how we adjust to the new path life has put us on.