How to get out of depression after the death of her husband?

Getting your life back: how to get out of depression after the death of a husband, mother or other loved one?

Depression after the death of a loved one causes a persistent feeling of sadness and anxiety, loss of interest in life.

It can lead to physical health problems.

Therefore, it is important not to let the grief turn into a depressive state, and if necessary, seek help from specialists in time.

Causes of a depressive state

Depression is a common serious medical condition that negatively affects well-being, thoughts and actions. Its occurrence may be triggered by the death of a loved one. It is an overwhelming, unexpected, sudden tragedy. Such a loss is always a deep shock, the shock of which can leave scars in the soul for a lifetime.

A theory developed by psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross suggests that a person goes through five different stages of grief after losing a loved one :

  1. Denial;
  2. anger;
  3. bargaining;
  4. depression;
  5. acceptance.

In the first stage of grief, denial helps minimize the shock of loss. The mind refuses to become fully aware of what has happened, thereby anesthetizing the emotional pain and giving some time to adjust to this new reality.

Then comes the turn of anger, which is a natural way of releasing the negative emotions associated with the loss. During this period, feelings of anger may be directed at oneself, others, higher forces, fate, etc.

Despair at the loss pushes one to look for a way to alleviate or minimize the pain. This is how the person proceeds to the stage of negotiation. Bargaining may consist of different variations of thoughts: “What if I could prevent, protect, help…”.

The person begins to search for the reason for what happened or who is to blame. A bitter feeling of guilt and self-injury is mixed in with feelings of anger. Or perpetrators are appointed from among the surrounding people – doctors, other relatives, etc.

The cycle of thoughts is accompanied by very diverse feelings, from bitterness and guilt to a kind of relief.

Over time, the imagination calms down, the emotional fog begins to dissipate, and the real experience of the situation looms. The feeling of losing a loved one becomes stronger. It is this moment that is decisive – whether the person will sink into depression or whether he or she will be able to overcome the pain.

If the person successfully passes through the previous stages, he moves on to the stage of acceptance . This does not mean that he no longer feels the pain of loss. Sadness and regret are still present in this phase, but the tactics of resistance are replaced by a desire to continue living and adjusting to the new reality.

If a spouse dies

The loss of a loved one is confusing and confounding. There was life there. There was happiness. There was laughter and understanding and caring and joy. These states never seem to happen again without him or her.

A distinctive feature of emotional experience after the death of a husband or wife is associated with a change in socially significant role. This is often perceived as loss of support, taking on additional functions previously performed by the deceased spouse.

In addition to being in a state of grief, a person may be required to take decisive action or fulfill obligations to others: children, parents. For some, this helps them cope more quickly with emotional distress, while for others it plunges them into a constant state of stress, which later leads to a prolonged depression.


Losing parents is always a great tragedy. Psychological relationships that are established in the family impose a lifelong imprint. Even in the absence of a mother or father around, children (despite their age) often turn to them in their minds and evaluate themselves by their “look”.

The death of a parent is radically life-changing. In addition to bitterness, sadness and loss, there is a feeling of emptiness. In order to come back to life, the fact of loss must be accepted. And the sooner it happens, the better. Remembering them should not make you forget about yourself, your plans, business, and aspirations.

The Child

Parents feel responsible for their child’s well-being. Therefore, his death does not just deprive them of their loved one. They also lose years of hope and the very meaning of life. Although parents grieving the loss experience in many ways the classic 5 stages of accepting the inevitable, there are many unique characteristics. The trauma is often more intense, the memories and hopes harder to get rid of . Thus, the grieving process lasts longer and the likelihood of depression is much higher.

Brother or Sister

Siblings provide opportunities for each other to learn how to interact with other people. Although their relationship may be complicated and not always close, losing a sibling is often a devastating experience.

It can provoke feelings of guilt, remorse, post-traumatic grief, and regression in social relationships.

Because siblings often project onto themselves what happens to them, fear of their own death can arise. It may be expressed by worrying about any physical symptoms, fears of outside society, etc.

Symptoms and Stages of Grief

All people grieve in different ways. The five stages of grief may take place in order, alternating with each other, or may come chaotically, periodically bringing the person back to an earlier stage of the experience. Not necessarily everyone has to go through all of them. Likewise, the time it takes to accept the inevitable is different for each individual.

In contrast to the depressive state of grief, painful feelings come in waves, often mixed with positive memories of the deceased. At the same time, adequate self-esteem is usually preserved. With severe depression, on the contrary, there are feelings of worthlessness and disgust with oneself.

In grief, thoughts of death may resurface as fantasies of “connection” with the deceased. In depression, thoughts focus on killing oneself because of feelings of not deserving life or inability to cope with pain.

People in times of grief experience a loss of emotional connection, feelings of unfulfilled debt, and guilt. Dealing with feelings, emotions, sensations, and learning to live in a new way can be difficult. It takes time and concentrated work on yourself.

Signs of development

Symptoms of depression can range from mild to severe and include:

  • A feeling of sadness or depressed mood.
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed.
  • Changes in appetite, weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting.
  • Sleep problems or increased sleepiness.
  • Loss of energy.
  • Increased aimless physical activity, e.g., inability to sit still, walk around, write by hand.
  • Slow movements or speech (these actions must be serious enough to be noticed by others).
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt.
  • Difficulty thinking, concentrating, or making decisions.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide.

Symptoms should last at least two weeks. In addition, medical conditions such as thyroid problems, brain tumors, or vitamin deficiencies can provoke similar conditions. Therefore, it is important to rule out common medical causes.

How to survive: tips from a psychologist

There is no clear plan on how to survive the death of a loved one, suitable for everyone. Situations of loss and emotional connections are different for everyone. And everyone has to experience grief in different ways. But there are a number of general tips, following which you can more easily survive this difficult period and even reduce the symptoms of depression.

Get over the pain of loss. In order not to carry the heavy burden of grief for the rest of your life, you need to feel your emotions, deal with them and survive.

The death of a loved one is a serious stress that can provoke the development of various diseases. Therefore, you should take care of yourself and your physical condition. You should not give up the support of family and friends. Give free rein to your feelings. Open expression of grief will help release negative emotions and relieve psychological state.

Try to express your emotions with creativity. Psychologists advise to write a letter to the deceased, to take untold thoughts and feelings on paper. You can describe your grief or express it through art objects.

Do not set a time limit for the experience of loss. Give yourself time to deal with your emotions, rather than suppressing them. In doing so, don’t shut yourself off from those you care about and love. You can experience grief together and support each other.

What can relatives do to help the grieving person cope?

It hurts to see a loved one, friend, acquaintance who has just lost a relative. How to help get over the death of a loved one, what to say, how to behave, and how to ease the suffering?

Trying to help endure the pain, many people try to distract the person from what happened and avoid talking about death. But this is wrong.

Effective ways to help the grieving person :

  • Don’t ignore talking about the deceased person. If the person’s thoughts are all about the person, it is important to give them a chance to speak up and cry.
  • Immediately after a tragedy, nothing can distract a person from their grief, they just need moral support. But after a few weeks, you can start to direct his thoughts in a different direction, invite him to some pleasant place, offer joint courses, and so on.
  • Switch your attention. It’s best to ask to do an uncomplicated favor to show that you care about his help and participation.

Physical exercise is good for speeding up the process of recovery from depression. They stimulate the production of endorphins – the hormones of happiness, the deficiency of which provokes depressive states.

When does a specialist need help?

A person suffering from depression gets into a kind of vicious circle: getting rid of the illness requires energy and will, which are lacking when the person is depressed. Therefore, people are not always able to heal on their own. If even one of the symptoms of depression lasts for a long time (more than two weeks), it is advisable to seek help from a specialist.

Psychotherapy is used separately to treat mild depression. It helps to recognize distorted/negative thinking in order to change thoughts and behavior. Individual therapy takes the form of a conversation . Group therapy brings people with similar problems together in a supportive environment and can help the participant learn how others are dealing with similar situations.

For moderate to severe depression, it is recommended that psychotherapy sessions be combined with antidepressant medications. These medications are not sedatives or tranquilizers and have no stimulating effects. Their action affects the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. Therefore, only a psychiatrist can prescribe such drugs, who also monitors the patient’s condition.


Experiencing grief is as unique to each person as a fingerprint. Dealing with your emotions after the death of a loved one can be very difficult and even impossible on your own. Therefore, you should not shut your pain inside. Support from loved ones or professionals can help you through this difficult phase and find the strength to move on.

Ways to get out of depression after the death of a loved one

The death of a loved one drives depression for many reasons that can affect a person’s emotional state at the same time. This is why it is particularly difficult to experience. A specific “set” of reasons differs from one person to another. And consequently, depression after the death of a husband, son, mother or other person may be different. So do the ways of getting rid of it.

Today we will look at its causes and give advice on how to get out of depression after the death of a son, husband (or other relative).

Causes of depression

Depression after death is caused by many factors, namely:

  1. Dependence on the deceased person.
  2. A subjective feeling of a shattered perspective.
  3. Resentment and feelings of guilt.
  4. Inability to cope with stress.
  5. A pessimistic view of the world.
  6. Low willpower.

There are actually many more reasons. These are just the most common. As a rule, they are closely intertwined with each other, and it is not clear what is primary. Let’s break down each of these factors in more detail.

Dependence on the deceased person

If a person who has lost someone close, was dependent on him, then the death leads to the question: “And how do I go on living? The problem here is not only that the loved one is gone, but also in the feeling of inability to adapt to further life. Before getting rid of depression, you must first understand which of these types of addictions work specifically in your case.

  1. Material addiction. For example, if there is a depression after the death of her husband, who was the breadwinner of the family. The problem is solved simply – you need to learn how to earn money. Of course, the deceased man she will not resurrect, but the emotional burden will be significantly reduced.
  2. Intellectual dependence. This is when the deceased was a bearer of some knowledge, acted as a teacher, was in authority with his loved ones. And when he dies, a person feels unable to make decisions. The problem is solved simply by replenishing intellectual capital. Read books, meditate, learn to make decisions on your own. It is worth remembering that any crisis situation involves, first of all, opportunities, which you can use only through learning. The saying “learn, learn, and learn again” works in all times, in all centuries.
  3. Emotional dependence. This is when a person knows how to get a feeling of life satisfaction, happiness, joy only from other people. And when death comes to someone who evoked positive emotions, his addicted relative or friend loses the only source of joy. Naturally, this leads to depression. The problem is solved by developing emotional intelligence, training skills to manage your own emotions, self-motivation.

All the ways of solving this problem are aimed at one thing: gaining independence. To begin with, you have to seriously ask yourself this question and actively try to find an answer to it. We will, of course, give advice on gaining personal independence, but do not forget that each person is different and so is his situation. You have to work out your own style of achieving a goal that is comfortable for you. But here are some recommendations:

  1. Think more often about how to achieve your desired goal. Try to look at yourself objectively. To be self-sufficient, you need to be your own educator.
  2. Train your willpower. This is the main quality that characterizes a person as self-sufficient and independent. It’s it will help you implement the conclusions you made from the situation, in life.
  3. Constantly educate yourself. Self-sufficient is a man who can more than his immediate environment. And to expand the scope of their capabilities, you need to continually learn something new.

Feel the destruction of perspective.

This feeling occurs when the person who was irrevocably lost had goals and plans that will not be achieved. In this case, the best solution is to develop a new perspective. Your actions should come from a pro-life approach – make the most of the unpleasant situation you have for personal growth, to improve your life.

Of course, working through prospects will take more than a day. But it has to be done. And the more time you devote to it, the faster this cause will be eliminated.

You can work through perspectives like this:

  1. Create a file in Evernote or any other app that supports automatic syncing and jot down ideas there on how you can improve your life after this situation. Of course, you can work purely with a computer, but online notebooks are better because you can write down an idea right away if you have your phone handy. This should be done throughout the transition period.
  2. Start implementing the ideas that come to mind. It is clear that in depression the hardest thing is to start doing something, willpower is reduced almost to zero (especially in deep depression). But if you regularly take small feasible steps, over time you will become enthusiastic, and you will even enjoy transforming your life.

One business coach basically did just that. After his wife died, he started working more actively, which increased his professionalism, the number of clients, and his earnings. But the main thing here is not to go to the other extreme – to try to go into work so as not to think about the loss. In this case, we are actually replacing one addiction with another. Our task, on the other hand, is to become self-sufficient people. It is possible to use work in order to distract yourself from grief, but only if it helps you to become stronger and really overcome depression, not drown it out.

Resentment and guilt

There are times when depression is triggered by resentment over another person’s death. Yes, this happens in psychological practice, and quite often. It is, of course, irrational, but only irrational beliefs can plunge one into depression.

Another common reason is guilt. A person may feel that if he did or did not do something, the other person would not have died. This is usually an irrational feeling (because he is only so smart now, and at the time he objectively did not know that the action could have resulted in death. Or in general, there is no connection between that action, which may or may not have been, and the death of a loved one).

You have to keep reminding yourself – you acted in the best way available to you at the time. Well, you didn’t know the best way to act then. And every time you feel irrational guilt, think about it.

Of course, it also happens that a person is really guilty. In such a case, you need not to eliminate emotions, but to draw conclusions. Yes, you have made a mistake. Sometimes mistakes are costly. But it is a price to pay for a very important lesson that will not be written in any book.

So in this case, you have to reflect on what conclusions you need to draw. You can’t do anything, you can’t correct the mistake. But it is very important to use the lessons learned in real life.

Inability to cope with stress

Stress resistance is an extremely important quality that helps to endure even the most difficult situations. If a person lacks it, the likelihood of depression increases several times. All because there is no inner confidence that he can cope and survive the situation.

Depression in this case is often provoked by learned helplessness. This is when a person does not even try to improve his situation, although he has opportunities. He signs off on his own powerlessness in almost every situation.

Some tips for the development of stress resistance:

  1. Solve problems, don’t try to avoid them or pretend they don’t exist.
  2. Meditate and learn relaxation techniques.
  3. Actively maintain social connections. Of course, when you’re depressed, you don’t want to do this at all. It even seems that there is no need to communicate with people, and it will only hurt. In fact, this is an illusion. A socially active person is less likely to fall into depression and gets out of it more easily.

You can follow these guidelines at any age.

Pessimistic view of the world

Pessimists don’t get depressed, they only sometimes get out of it. And they very often say, “Well, that’s reality. No need to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. To begin with, optimism and pessimism are illusions. What matters here is not how realistic your view of things is, but whether that outlook helps you.

And, as a rule, an optimistic view still more often inspires, makes a person act, actively get out of depression, make new interesting social connections. In addition, optimism helps to cope with absolutely any difficulties.

Low willpower

Low willpower is very closely related to learned helplessness. In addition, the lack of self-control skills prevents you from introducing something new into your life, actively coming out of depression. A weak-willed person will not follow any of the recommendations on how to get out of depression after the death of their mother, wife or someone close to them. This is not because she disagrees with the recommendations, but because she is simply lazy.

A weak-willed person can go to all sorts of trouble: drinking, gluttony and other consequences of a weak will, than only to exacerbate the manifestations of depression. In general, in order to cope with depression after the loss of a loved one, train your willpower.

Meditation is very good for training willpower. Willpower is closely related to the ability to concentrate on a task. Meditation trains this ability. In addition, it relaxes, and by itself can significantly reduce the symptoms of depression.


We have broken down the causes of depression after the death of a very loved one. How to get out of it? In fact, it is not as complicated as it may seem at first glance. Everything big can be broken down into small parts. It’s the same with complicated actions. You still have to take simple steps. But you have to force yourself to do them. When you’re depressed, that’s the hardest part. But only you yourself can get out of it and recover from the loss of your spouse, father, boyfriend, elderly relative, and even your pet (cat, for example).

It makes no difference whose loss you have experienced. In general, tips on how to cope with depression are universal. In most cases, you won’t even need medication or expensive treatments. It will be possible to free yourself from depression and remove the cause, not the symptom.

People often ask, how long does depression last, how long is it treated? It all depends on the person himself and the circumstances in which he is caught. Someone will be able to overcome the discouragement and depression for a week, someone – for a month. And someone will be in it for years. Yes, a beloved child, father, wife left, but the way out of the state that oppresses you, there is. The main thing – do not worry and help yourself. Unfortunately, many after parents or other relatives have died, do not do this. As a result, they sit in depression for years.

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