Grief and Loss
My husband died suddenly about a year ago. I’m still having trouble sleeping and I just wish the pain would end. Can you die from a broken heart?

Learning to live without your husband, and adapting to a very different life without him is a demanding experience. This period is the most difficult, especially if your loss was sudden or unexpected, and if you didn’t have a proper chance to say goodbye. It’s part of the grieving process to feel immense sadness and miss the person who died.

Each person grieves in his or her own way. Often it can be overwhelming and isolating. Many people go through a time of numbness, often described as walking through a fog. Some people have vivid dreams or daydreams that the loved one will walk through the door as if still alive. Some try to avoid the pain by keeping busy. Some people wait for the pain to subside on its own, but it often resurfaces without warning. It may be especially overwhelming on anniversaries or holidays, with special songs, in shared places, or with specific people or memories.

Generally, people need to confront the pain and the loss, in order to move through the grieving process. Some people find writing regularly in a journal can help work out the pain. You may find comfort in writing a letter to your husband, or in finding some other way to say goodbye.

Grieving can be very difficult to do alone. Talking to people can help. Trusted friends or family members can be a much needed support, and can help break down a sense of isolation. It may help to see a counselor to talk about your experiences and feelings. Think about joining a grief support group. There may be value in hearing how others are dealing with similar loss, and in knowing that others too are feeling pain and grief. If your area has a hospice or palliative care association you may want to contact them. Often they run bereavement programs, or they can refer you to such a program.

Grieving takes time. Some people say that grieving the death of an important person never ends; it just changes. As time goes on you’ll continue to think about your wife, or feel her presence, but your emotions won’t be as overwhelming as they are right now.

Sometimes grief is especially complex and hard to work through. It often happens when there are several deaths close together or when the person who died was central in your life, as your husband was. Such situations may lead to depression. Feeling isolated or overwhelmed can increase that risk. It’s important to be aware of this. Symptoms of depression can be similar to symptoms of grief. Notice especially if you can’t eat or sleep or you can’t get interested in things that used to give you pleasure. Depression is serious because it engulfs every aspect of our lives and distorts the way we feels about the world and ourselves. Often it can’t be resolved alone. If you’re concerned about your emotions it’s important to talk to a health care provider who can help you find support, resources or treatment if necessary.

Grief Work