Many of you who have been bereaved of a partner will identify with this statement. When our partner dies we lose a part of ourselves – our identity alters, and we are not the same person that we were before.
We grieve not just for the person who has died, but for the relationship we had with them. The role that we had in our life with them has gone: we are no longer a wife or husband, we may now be a lone parent, we may have lost our role as a caregiver. We may also feel the loss of a shared identity as a family.
When my husband Gary died, it came almost as a shock that I no longer felt comfortable in social situations with people with whom we had spent happy and relaxed social times as a couple for many years. It was not them who was different, but me. I had changed, but not through any choice of my own.
Trying to adjust to a new identity when there is so much else to contemplate and so many decisions to make, can be overwhelming, but it is possible, and with time and support there can be hope for a new life and a ‘new you’.
We can build a new identity around the skills, roles and relationships that have meaning in our lives. Here’s some tips to help you to begin to ‘reform’ – to establish your new identity:
It can be hard to take the first steps in your new identity, but in time you will be glad that you did.
Be encouraged – you are not alone. Others have travelled this journey, and have found that it is possible to build a new life for themselves.