Adjusting After Our Person Has Died

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.

Something More… about Adjusting After Our Person Has Died

Many bereavement groups supply their grieving members with my booklet, My Friend, I Care: The Grief Experience. I strongly encourage grievers to find support in a grief group. It will be difficult to get there in the beginning. Ask a friend or relative to take you there for the first few times. 

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Our second daughter would have been celebrating her 41st birthday April 9th but so very sadly she was stillborn three days before her due date on April 12th. We already had a 20 month old son and I was really looking forward to being SO busy with two in diapers! After we came home from the hospital, the house was so quiet-no newborn cries, no midnight nursings, no extra diapers. I cried every day for months. We grieved for the future of our family, not just for our beloved daughter.
Over the years, God blessed us with two more daughters and two more sons. And we know we will all be together as a family in Heaven one day.
It. Was. Just. So. Sad …
BK Books replied:
Rose, with the death of an infant we grieve not just the immediate loss but the loss to the future. What they could have been and done. Thank you for sharing. Blessings to you and your family. Barbara

Jennifer H

Thank you, Barbara, for once again shedding light on a dark area. In my case, I agree with Paula who commented on 15 months of fear. I did not anticipate fear, nor the waves of complete fatigue or hunger that would pound away as my body was trying to recover itself from years of caregiving and the denial to myself of other areas in my life as a sacrifice that were now either coming up for oxygen or needing to be addressed. I forced myself to leave the house by answering invitations, joining a church, visiting friends, and just deciding to go for a local drive or walk to enjoy God’s creation and the sun on my face. Life holds so much, but we who grieve are not just grieving the person we lost, but ourselves, time passed, friendships put off or lost, other deaths of friends, family that have not had closer. We have a whole new journey ahead of us that we are excited about but maybe feel unprepared for. One foot out the door soon equals two, connections are lifelines beckoning us to community. We need to act on those, and then that journey will begin.
BK Books replied:
Hi Jennifer,Thank you for sharing. Blessings! Barbara

Carolyn Rodriguez

Reading the comments was very insightful to this aspect of grieving. Just as mentioned, it was more related to fear of what is to come, at the same time, gradually accepting the loss of the loved one.
BK Books replied:
Hi Carolyn, well said! Blessings! Barbara

Barbara Thalacker

Barbara. My heart breaks for you that this your path now. It’s not fair and it is so hard. I am so sorry. Sending love.
My partner of 20 years died in my arms at home 23 years ago this week and I have been with another wife now for 20 years and married since it was legal in 2008. And still your writing about your fresh grief resonates strongly. I was determined to experience every bit of grief and healing as well as I was able at the time. I journaled, went to therapy, bored friends and loved ones with stories, attended a grief group, sought out helpers and none of it at first and all of it eventually helped so very much. Reading was hard at first, but later page by page the words built a new and changed person. I have been a hospice volunteer for nearly 15 years and I find that I benefit more than I give, every single time. I bought several sets of your books this last year when my wife’s former son-in-law died and they were such a good roadmap for his son’s, ex-wife and former mother-in-law. My experience helped them especially during the active dying process. I am grateful the books were available to fortify my advice to them all.
Quick story. I was asked once by a woman how in the world I am able to do hospice work. She asked whether I cried and just how I managed. I shared that, of course, I cried, every single time. And that each death was hard, but how honored I am to be present during such a holy time. Then I asked her what she did for work. (And this is the interesting part). She was a pediatric intensive care oncology nurse. I really did chuckle and remarked…back atcha. Thank you for the time and heart you pour into your writing. It makes a difference.
Appreciatively, Barbara
BK Books replied:
Hi Barbara, thank you for sharing. Blessings to you for the work you’re doing. Barbara.

Paula Schneider

Good questions, Barbara. I have asked every one of them myself. Within hours of Larry’s passing, I was asking of the Universe, “Someone’s going to have to come here and tell me how to do this, because I don’t know.” What I now understand, 15 months later, is what people call grief I now believe was fear. My fear was enormous and I can’t list all the areas where fear ruled supreme. it has taken me much work for 15 months to overcome some of my fears. As each one is released, I should probably throw a party because I begin to heal. As I heal, I become stronger. It is palpable. Do I still cry? Oh yes. Do I still wish he were here in the physical? Oh yes. Do I still feel I may never travel again with him? Yes. All things can be released in their time. Not crazy about the term grieving—for me so much was fearing.
BK Books replied:
Hi Paula, I remember sitting with a gentleman crying following his wife’s death. He kept saying “I don’t know how I am going to live without her? I don’t know how to cook, or do my laundry.” I remembered him when I was thinking “I don’t know how to pay taxes, how to service the car.” We take so much of a partnership for granted—until it’s gone. Fear rides with us as we venture ,or are forced, into new ways of living. Blessings! Barbara

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