Grieving the Death of a Partner or Spouse


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

​After your spouse or partner dies, you transition from being a couple to being alone. This loss can bring significant changes to your life and it can be difficult to function in a world that has suddenly become so different.

The life you shared may feel like it’s crumbled. Here are some ideas to consider as you work your way through your grief:

  •  There’s no right or wrong or good or bad way to grieve. Whatever you are feeling is okay.
  • You may find that you continue to turn to your loved one to share a story or ask a question. This is natural. In fact, many people find it helpful to continue to speak with their deceased partner or spouse.
  • Continue to attend to practical matters. Funeral arrangements, thank you notes, the estate, insurance, and bank accounts all require attention and energy. Do what you must and postpone what you can.
  • You may be struggling with what to do with your partner’s personal possessions. Others may offer you advice. Trust your instincts about when it’s the right time for you to go through these items. This is different for each person.
  • Communicate with friends and family about what is helpful and what is not helpful to you. You may feel shy about expressing how you feel but know that others will appreciate knowing best how to support you.
  • It may be painful to talk about your deceased love one. Continue to include them in your thoughts and conversation through your tears and honor the importance he or she played in your life.
  • Stress and grief can have an impact on the immune system. You may not feel like attending to your health, but work towards maintaining your health as soon as you feel able. Attend to getting proper nutrition and exercise.
  • Don’t be pushed into making decisions that you aren’t ready to make. You will need to take control of your financial resources and needs, but take the time to think things through before making any commitments.
  • If you think that your emotions are getting the best of you, know that there is help out there in the form of support groups and individual counselling. Reach out to others.

If you feel like you’re on a roller coaster of emotions, know that you aren’t alone. It’s okay to laugh and to cry. Don’t feel as if you need to hold onto only negative emotions. All of your emotions are a tribute to the life you shared together.

Please join one of our spousal loss support groups.


About Diane Snyder Cowan​
Diane Snyder Cowan is the director of Western Reserve Grief Services.

She oversees the hospice and bereavement programs and expressive therapy. Diane is a Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Administrator and a Board Certified Music Therapist.

She currently serves as the Section Leader for the Bereavement Professional Section of the National Council of Hospice and Palliative Professionals and previously served on the Board of Directors of the Certification Board for Music Therapy.

Diane has presented on music therapy and grief and loss throughout the country and has written for many publications on music therapy and on grief and loss.

She strives to provide support and education to grieving individuals and those who work with them.