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Loss of a spouse and the impact on children by Lise Robinson

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

The loss of a spouse can be an incredibly painful and challenging experience, and the grieving process can be long and complex. Some common experiences and emotions that may be associated with the loss of a spouse include:

  1. Intense emotions: Grief can bring up a range of intense emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, and anxiety. These emotions can be overwhelming and difficult to manage.

  2. Changes in identity: Losing a spouse can also mean a loss of a significant part of a person's identity. This can bring about a sense of identity loss and confusion.

  3. Changes in relationships: The loss of a spouse can also mean a loss of a significant relationship. This can affect other relationships in a person's life, such as relationships with family members or friends.

  4. Practical considerations: There may be practical considerations to deal with, such as finances or household responsibilities, which can be overwhelming during the grieving process.

  5. Physical symptoms: Grief can also manifest as physical symptoms, such as fatigue, difficulty sleeping, and changes in appetite.

When we loss my sons father it was absolutely devastating. The death was devastating as he died in a house fire. We had to wait several days to get the positive identification. The wait was excruciating and the images of how he passed away was going through my mind. The vicarious trauma and having to be strong for my sons was key to navigating through this epic life changing event in our life. The confirmation of his death on the third day determined our next part of planning the wake and funeral.

We prayed and worked on planning his celebration of life with legacy posters and contacting Elders, family and friend to help with orgazing. We hosted the event at the community hall with a Pipe Ceremony and Sharing Circle. We had drumming, prayers and speakers from the community share stories. This was absolutely wonderful way to honor my sons father. We had a feast with his favorite foods and we felt we did the best we could to honor his life in a sacred and caring way.

Healing from grief can be a complex and challenging process for anyone, including children. Here are a few tips for supporting a child in healing from grief:

  1. Encourage expression of emotions: Children may have limited understanding of death and grief, and they may struggle to express their emotions verbally. Encourage children to express themselves through drawing, writing, or other creative outlets, and offer them a safe space to do so.

  2. Maintain routines: Children thrive on routines and familiarity, so it's important to maintain a sense of stability in their lives as much as possible. Stick to regular mealtimes, bedtime routines, and activities that the child enjoys.

  3. Provide comfort and support: Children may benefit from physical comfort and support, such as hugs, holding hands, or simply being near someone they trust. Offer reassurance and support, and let them know that they are not alone.

It's important to remember that there is no "right" way to grieve and that everyone's grieving process is unique. It's also important to seek support from friends, family, and mental health professionals who can help you navigate the grieving process and provide comfort and understanding. Some people may find support groups or counseling specifically for those who have lost a spouse to be helpful.

Join our facebook community at "Grief after the Loss of a Loved One" group. Reach out and get support at

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