One of the dreaded questions for couples may very well be, “What happens if your spouse dies?” Lots of people just don’t want to think about it, and the recent death of actress Elizabeth Pena has a lot of us thinking.
Pena, just 55, died earlier this week after a short illness, though the exact details are not yet known. The actress played Sofia Vergara’s mother on the popular TV show Modern Family but may be best known for her roles in films such as batteries not included, La Bamba, Down and Out in Beverly Hills and Rush Hour.
She will be sorely missed in Hollywood and is survived by a sister, her mother, two children and husband. So, the question remains, what would you do if your spouse passes away?
Dealing with the death of a spouse
There are lots of questions for couples, but one that can make the room go quiet and somber is what happens if one of you dies? Losing a husband or wife can be a devastating event, and many of us will have to face it sooner or later. Although there is not a lot of research on how we live on after a spouse has passed, there is some advice.
Grief doesn’t last forever
The grief we feel, especially after the death of a spouse, is severe, but the good news is that it does not last forever. A Columbia University study has shown that the core symptoms of acute grief – depression, anxiety, shock – tend to lift after about six months for about 50% of people. The loss will last forever but the grieving won’t.
We oscillate through grief
Grief does come in stages, but it isn’t as linear as you might think. We don’t move from denial to anger to depression and so forth but instead oscillate between these emotions. Some studies have shown that it is common to feel sad and anxious one day but light-hearted and happy the next. Grieving comes in waves, but these waves diminish over time.
There is no doubt that it is devastating to lose your spouse, but the pain will go away eventually, and then you will be left with all the happy memories of your time together that you can cherish forever.