Facing the death of a partner

Facing a partner’s death is one problem most of us would prefer not to have to understand. We spend our lives in search of a soul mate with whom to build a life. We share our dreams, experience and possessions, shaping an identity as a couple and as a family. Many of us vow, “Til death do us part,” but how many of us have any inkling of what that parting may mean?

More than 900,000 Americans a year face the death of a spouse. These numbers do not include those who lose partners they have not legally wed, but who may be just as central in their lives.

The experience of losing a partner is not easily defined. It impacts people differently at different times in their lives. Factors that affect how a person reacts to a partner’s death include whether:

  • the death is expected;
  • the surviving partner is in a phase of life in which many of his peers also face the death of a partner;
  • whether the relationship is satisfying and enriching or unsatisfying and prone to conflict.These books have been recommended by people in therapy facing a partner’s death:
    • A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis
    • Letting Go, by Melanie Beatty
    • When a Lifemate Dies: Stories of Love, Loss, and Healing, edited by S. Heinleins, G. Brumett, and J. Tibbals
  • Chicago’s Transitions Bookstore reports that the following books have been especially helpful to their readers facing a partner’s death:
    • The Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses, by John W. James and Russell Friedman
    • How to Survive the Loss of a Love, by Melba Colgrove, Harold Bloomfield, and Peter McWilliams

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