Psychological Aspects of Widowhood
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Psychological Aspects of Widowhood

July 14, 2019 | Health | By Lisa Smith

Studies have revealed that those widowed in their middle-ages show a marked drop in their mental health in the first year after the loss and is usually accompanied by weight loss. After that they slowly bounce back. Although there may be other factors, but a strong social support definitely helps them cope. Mental health improvement could be a result of reduced anxiety related to loosing a sick partner. Also proving senior ability and resilience to get their life back on track. Read on to know more about the psychological aspects of widowhood.

Response To Widowhood Is Different In Men And Women

It has been seen that men are more vulnerable to the widowhood than women are. While women begin to reach out to friends and family and begin to rebuild their social network, men get encapsulated in a shell. Men also find it difficult to connect with support groups and usually get very lonely and isolated. This is why, in this age group, depressive disorders are higher in men than in women.

The best way that men have shown to cope with the loss is through increased physical activity. However overdoing that, hampers health in the absence of ability to sustain high levels of exercise.

It is due to these reasons that research highlights men decline faster and remain at greater risk to succumb to loss of spouse.

Effects of Widowhood

Succumbing To Ill Health

Psychologically, losing a spouse can be traumatic and could lead to:

  • Sadness
  • Nervousness
  • Guilt

These can cause physical illness since the body is both emotionally and physically stressed. Research has shown high mortality rates amidst the bereaved partner being highest in the first six months after loss. In fact, health wise, the most crucial period is the first three months post which improvements in the mood have been noticed. During the initial months the partner is also likely to:

  • Not care about the way he/she looks
  • Not take prescribed medication on time – and falling ill
  • Demonstrate suicidal tendencies
  • The broken heart syndrome is also called the takotsubo condition. It is one where the stress caused due to extreme emotional trauma leads to myocardial infarction.

No Interest In Social Life

During the early months of widowhood the partner shows little or no inclination in mingling socially. This is because it brings about a loss of self-esteem and so the person withdraws himself/herself and becomes unresponsive to invitations that call for social interactions. Hence, they go quite silent and prefer to stay at home. In fact, even the closest members of the family and friends might find it difficult to communicate with them. Hobbies that they enjoyed also take a back seat and they show no interest in it anymore. With time, however, research has seen, the widowed person begins to spend more time with close family than he / she was before when he/she still had the spouse living.

Effect On Diet

Studies have shown that the living mate experiences weight loss soon after the death of the spouse. This is because of :

  • There is a loss of appetite and so the amount of food being consumed during meal times is far lesser than what it was when they were married
  • The changes in the kind of food intake after the loss. Widowed people usually shut themselves out from the rest of the world and begin managing meals on their own. When this happens they stop caring of what exactly they are consuming and don’t quite pay attention to the nutritional content of the meal as well
  • The lack of enjoying a meal also causes mental anguish, thereby leading to loss in weight

The Coping Methods

After widowhood it is difficult to cope with the loss and there isn’t any works for all method to deal with it, still one must find a way to get life back on track. While processing of grief is important – safely and effectively doing so is as important.

  • Begin by admitting and acknowledging the loss and not to stay in denial
  • Don’t try and block your emotions – grieve openly as that will help you come to terms with it
  • Reach out to family and friends to talk. If that does not work then engage in counselling from a professional
  • Start taking part in hobby classes or try volunteering

For one who has recently experienced widowhood, it might be difficult for you to perform all the daily functions initially. So, it is important for you to reach out to your close family or even organizations that help and support widowed individuals. Remember time is a healer but your efforts are important.

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