One of the worst things that can happen in life is losing a spouse. How do I know? It happened to me and in the prime of my life

When it happens, many thoughts and emotions whiz through your mind

Only four months earlier, my husband and I had completed a Christian counseling course. One of the major topics addressed was how to deal with grief

Now I was living it.

It is true that there are natural steps we go through in the grief process. The timing and length of each step is different for each person.

The good news is that you can and will get through this sad time in your life. Here are some practical tips to help you adjust:

* You just lost the one person who cared most for your personal needs. Therefore, even if you are a person who puts others’ needs ahead of your own, this is the one time in your life to put your needs at the forefront.

* Specifically, that means getting enough rest, exercise, and eating healthy.

* You may find that you have no appetite at anyway. Instead, you may find that you want to drown your sorrow by overeating, taking alcohol or drugs, etc. don’t. They are not the solution. You will only end up in deeper pain.

* Walking is a great exercise, which adds beneficial fresh air and sunshine to boost your mood. It also helps you feel reconnected to life; don’t ask me how it just does. And studies have shown it is the best therapy for sleep disturbances (which you may experience).

* You may feel like declining invitations to go out with family and friends. I recommend outings with just one person at first, which is easier to handle.

* Gatherings with couples and larger groups of family and friends will naturally intensify your feeling of loss. However, as you face these situations one at a time, at your own pace, you’ll grow stronger and be on your way to healing.

* Sometimes you will take three steps forward, and one or two back. That’s OK.

* Find one person that allows you to talk freely about your spouse as much as you need to. And/or journal your memories of your loved one and express the pain you are going through from losing them.

* Acknowledge the pain of not being a couple. Being suddenly single is the pits!

* Realize that no one can replace your spouse.

* At the same time, there is a tendency to put your spouse on a pedestal. It is helpful to remember his/her flaws too. In spite of that fact, they were a person worth receiving your love. Therefore, there remain other people or other causes worth your time, attention, and love.

* Acknowledge that things will never be the same again and that you will always miss your spouse. Doing so frees you up to live a new life and love again if you chose.

Sadly, death is a difficult part of life. Some people’s attempts to comfort you may be quite feeble.

But if you can see their effort as a way of reaching out to you, instead of being hurt you will be grateful.

Following these steps will help you cope in the days ahead, and they will help you heal.