Elderly Lady Walking Alone

14 Apr 2021

Coping with the death of a lifelong partner

The sad announcement on Friday that Prince Philip has passed away at the age of 99, means that Queen Elizabeth has lost her husband of almost 74 years. The death of a partner is always devastating, and when two people have shared their life together, a death can also mean the loss of their daily rituals, or even their social circle*.

Often when an elderly person passes away, others can try to provide comfort with comments such as, “99 is a good age”, or “he lived a good life”. This can however go towards the surviving partner feeling as though they can’t express their sense of loss, and many older people can struggle with how to express this grief*.

Those grieving can feel lonely, sad, despairing, or angry, and experience this loss through the physical empty space where their loved one used to be, for example in an empty chair at the table. These feelings can sometimes take years to subside, but with support from loved ones over time the grief will lessen**.


Complicated Grief

One in ten bereaved older people (twice as many as the general population) experience ‘complicated grief’, a recognised condition that can have similar symptoms to post-traumatic stress disorder*. This differs to normal grief when***:

  • People feel unable to bounce back after a period of grieving, this varies depending on the individual but around 6 months after a bereavement may be when complicated grief is identifiable.
  • Intense and overwhelming emotions may feel constant and for a long time.
  • Feelings begin to have a permanently disruptive effect on normal day to day living.
  • The individual closes off from their feelings and becomes withdrawn from daily life, and possibly isolated.

If you have recently lost your life partner, a Bereavement Counsellor can provide support and a space for you to express your grief in an impartial, non-judgemental environment.

Here at The Eaves, we have a variety of trained professionals for all ages that can offer support with Bereavement.  If you are looking for help for a Bereavement, or anything else, please contact the referrals team on 01483 917000 who would be happy to help source a suitable therapist for you. You can also send us an enquiry. Click here to find out more.