10 Things No One Tells You About Being Widowed

This post originally appeared on the website Young, Widowed & Dating. YW&D is dedicated to helping the young, widowed community restart their heart after the death of their spouse.

Sure, we expect the sadness, loneliness and copious amount of tears, but there are several things that seem to have been left out of the “Being Widowed 101” manual.

Check out the list below and let me know if you can relate to any of them:

1. Where’s My Period? The trauma of losing a spouse and the stress it has on one’s body can significantly affect a widow’s menstrual cycle. In fact, upon finally slowing down to take care of their own health, many widows are left wondering if the last romp with their husband resulted in a pregnancy, as it has been months since their last cycle. If you’re concerned your period hasn’t regulated itself after a few months, please contact your health care provider to rule out underlying issues such as fibroids.

2. Why Is Everything Blurry? Research shows a direct correlation between stress and blurry vision. One widow who already wears prescription glasses found they stopped working and was eventually told by her doctor that stress was the reason for her deteriorating eyesight. Be sure to get your eyes checked if you notice any blurriness or vision-related problems.

3. There Goes My Gorgeous Locks. Yes, stress takes a tremendous toll on the body and can cause hair loss. A young widow lamented she’d lost half the hair on her head. Her beautiful, butt-length hair became brittle and then fell out. With the help of multivitamins, biotin, vitamin D and calcium, her hair grew back…but it came in gray. Go figure!

4. Puberty… Again? Both widowed men and women revealed heightened libidos post-loss with many saying their sex drive is now “off the charts”. Not having a partner around certainly doesn’t help with this problem and most of us frown at the thought of randomly hooking up with a stranger. One widow joked that the guy who makes it to the third date would be in for a special treat!

5. Remind Me What Happened One of the most common complaints from the widowed community was experiencing lapses in memory. Many reported they had a difficult time recalling day-to-day events, places and names since the loss of their partners. From voice notes to writing down information, members of the Young, Widowed & Dating online support group said they were continuously using reminders to help them get through the day.

6. Will I Ever Sleep Again? Insomnia can be related to depression and/or anxiety, two of the key factors in grieving the loss of a spouse. Lack of sleep is so widespread in the widowed community that there is even a Facebook group specifically dedicated to those who lay awake in bed night after night and want to pass the time chatting with other widows and widowers.

7. Proactiv, Please! We already feel like we’re going through puberty with our heightened libidos and now to make matters even worse our face is covered with zits. Stress plays a major role in breakouts. Research has found that stress causes toxins to be released into the bloodstream which causes inflammation throughout the body. Though some reported a decrease in acne with proper diet and nutrition, it’s best to consult a dermatologist.

8. Pleasant Dreams…Not Think you’re lucky enough to get a break from insomnia? Think again. The widowed community reports high incidences of bad dreams and night terrors. Haunting dreams about a spouse’s tragic death or even one where he/she tells you they aren’t really dead can be overwhelming. Even if you happen to have a pleasant dream about your spouse, waking up and facing the cold, hard truth is depressing in and of itself. Consider talking with your therapist or physician if you’re feeling afraid to go to bed at nights.

9. My Stomach’s in Knots Gastrointestinal problems can often result from a widow or widower making poor eating habits. It comes with the territory though. Who can think about eating a well-balanced meal when there is so much on our plates? Many of us can go days if not longer without a decent meal. While beginning a healthier lifestyle can alleviate many stomach issues, be sure to see your primary care doctor to rule out any potential serious conditions.

10. What Now? Unfortunately, surviving spouses often lose their sense of purpose. You begin to wonder why you were left here alone and if there is a greater calling on your life. One widow said that after the passing of her husband, she hid behind her children. She was so involved with their day-to-day lives that she assumed that was role…her children’s mother. Now that the kids are older, she’s realizing that she has to step out from that shadow. It’s not uncommon for some in the widowed community to become so depressed about not immediately finding their purpose/passion that they turn to drugs, alcohol or promiscuous behaviors. Before you allow your life to get too far off into the ditch, reach out to a trained professional.

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