Loss of a spouse has traditionally been considered a devastating event. New studies have shown that it may not be as terrible to cope with as originally thought. A recent study actually shows some very interesting findings:
The Michigan team followed 1,500 couples over the age of 65, looked at the quality of their marriages and the effects on one after the other died.
Almost half said they had enjoyed their marriages but had been able to cope with the loss without much grieving.
Experts previously thought those with minimal grief lacked close attachment to their spouse or were in denial.
Deborah Carr, Rutgers University sociologist, who began the study while she was at the University of Michigan, said: "Forty-six per cent of the widows and widowers in this study reported they had satisfying marriages.
"They believed life is fair and they accepted that death is part of life." She added that many surviving spouses took great comfort in their memories.
"Taken together, these findings provide strong evidence that men and women who show this resilient pattern of grief are not emotionally distant or in denial, but are in fact well-adjusted individuals responding to the loss in a healthy way," Ms Carr said.
The findings are reported in a new book, Spousal Bereavement in Late Life, co-authored by psychologist Camille Wortman of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
The research was funded by the National Institute of Aging in the US.
We believe, like the cited research, that the death of a spouse can be a difficult grief event but paradoxically the closer you were to your spouse the more you see the event as a natural progression of one’s life. The suffering of a loved one and their terminal illness is often met with “relief” that the pain is over. There is need to find purpose for the surviving spouse to go on. This “going on” is sometimes facilitated by therapy and medication. The “memories” of one’s spouse create a warmth around the death of the loved one and the sharing of them creates a debriefing that facilitates the process of “going on.”
We present here in video the poignant story of Alex and his struggle to go on as well as the memories he shares about his wife of 57 years. He represents the best about marriage and validates much about the cited research. He should serve as a model of living through in honor of your spouse. Don’t be surprised if you shed a tear but realize you cry for yourself and not for Alex.
We would also like to extend a special thank you to director David Licata for allowing us to use his beautiful film. For more information about Tango Octogenario please check out the website here.