The Grief stuck Husband – How to cope with the Death of a Wife?

In the study of Human Psychology and Psychiatric Medicine the term Grief is one of the most dangerous signs to encounter.  
Grief refers to the loss of a loved one through death.  A simple word whose severe emotional and physical impact can only be experienced never understood.

In this article I will focus on the grief reaction experienced by a loving husband on the loss of his wife.

Why is this “word” of such Medical Importance?
Medically Grief symbolizes a severe, sudden and negative psychological impact on the subconscious, conscious and super-conscious.
In simpler words a sudden event that destroys the entire belief system of an individual.
Medically it also denotes the start of various short term and long term effects on the entire health spectrum (that is, mental, social, financial and sexual) of an individual.
The severity of losing a loved one to death can be assessed by the fact, that the International scale for stress measurement has pronounced it as the single most traumatic condition any individual can encounter in a life-time.

Psychological reasons why losing a wife to sudden death can be more devastating than losing a husband?

1. The Man – Family Protector
Traditional viewpoints to harbour in the deep mind set of 90% men. Traditionally a man see’s his role in the family as a protector and provider.
Being unable to save his partner from death is a major setback to his traditional belief system. This makes him question is viability as a male?

2. Home Affairs
The Wife naturally shares a lot of social, family and personal responsibilities. Household management without the soul-mate seems irrational and causes irritability.
Handling the household becomes an added responsibility which adds to the emotional pain related to the trauma of the loss.
3. The Man – The superhero
Traditional wisdom stops men from crying publically. Is it right or wrong? Is a personal decision. But certainly it hampers the venting out options that men have. While many take upon addictions (smoking, alcohol, drugs, promiscuous sexual activity) as a recluse or inability to vent out.
Macho attitude is very good for films... But anger, sadness, frustration, helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness are psychological nuclear bombs that need a cure. 
4. Long Term Grief –
Losing a partner or a soul-mate isn’t a one day or one week or one month affair. I find it really ridiculous when people try to counsel a husband with “don’t worry this phase will pass, you will soon move on?”
Losing a partner is losing a part of you. A part full of emotions, memories, and love... Its extremely difficult to detach from those memories. As the initial shock settles these memories become ghosts and start haunting.
Such is the haunting, that memories can be triggered at any moment, at any place and at any time of the day.

5. Addiction Trap
“Devdas” glorified the use of addictive substances (alcohol, drugs and sex) as a way to fight the emotional pain caused by loss of a partner.
Sadly this has become a holy grail for those suffering from such a condition. An “valid” explanation to indulge into escapism.
Unfortunately the writer of that script was never exposed to scientific research which demonstrated that alcohol, drugs and sex taken during periods of emotional loss infact increase the depression and sadness leading to a long-term miserable emotional life.

What are the stages of grief?
The five stages of the grief cycle -
  • Stage of Denial or stage of shock – its impossible to accept the loss. The brain is flooded with images of the loved one. Behaviour pattern might range from complete silence to hallucinations (believing that the person is still alive)
  • Stage of Anger -  Anger starts to come against self, society and family. “what if we where late by two minutes?”, “what if you hadn’t called us that day?”,  “What if I had taken a better decision?”... “What if...” starts to bother the mind... It’s also shows are easy irritability and anger.
    Bouts of unwanted anger can be experienced.
  • Stage of bargaining -  Bargaining with god or higher power. “Why did he/she come into my life, if they had to go away?” “Why did we be at that place at that moment?” “why couldn’t you take me instead of her?”
    The bargain has no limits, but fuels more and more anger.
  • Stage of Clinical Depression – This stage is present since the phase of anger. It’s demarcated by loneliness, sadness, crying episodes, appetite changes, feeling guilt, feeling hopelessness, helpless and worthlessness without the loved one.
  • Stage of Acceptance – After the Clinical depression has been resolved, as person accepts that “death is a transitional event”... It might be an end to the physical union of two individuals. But life has to be still lived upon. Many people develop a “altruistic” mentality and prefer to

What are the short term and long term effects of grief on Health Spectrum?

The greater the love and connect between a couple, the sever the impact of his/her loss.

1.70% of individuals who have lost a loving partner to sudden death, contemplate about suicide during the first 1 year.

2.80% of individuals who have lost a loving partner to sudden death, develop major depressive disorder within 6months – the major signs and symptoms include sadness of mood throughout the day, lack of interest in any daily activity, increased health illness ( blood pressure, heart issues, body pains, headaches, concentration/memory difficulties, sleep difficulties, weight issues, appetite disturbance, irritation and anger)

3.Upto 60% experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – recurrent, daily thoughts and flashbacks about the partner that hamper social and occupational functioning.

4.Anxiety disorders – fear and irritation of interaction with society, with family members, no hope about the future, stopping one self from developing new relationships.

5.Addictions – Using an external source or substance to run away from emotional pain. Slowly the usage of such an substance is increased to such an extent that an individual becomes addicted to the same.

The most common substances of addiction – Smoking, Alcohol, Drugs (marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, etc), Promiscuous sexual behaviour (increased sexual urge)

6.Personality Changes – The effect of losing a wife is such that the brain has to “shut down” the functioning of certain parts. Microscopic changes in brain structure lead to personality changes. From anti-social, depressed, to obsessive compulsive the spectrum of personality change can be extremely wide and in majority of cases negative.


How  To Cope with Death of a wife?
We have to respect the fact that every individual is unique in his own way. Henceforth the level of grief one will experience is entirely dependent on:
a. Connect and love with wife
b. Sharing of responsibilities with wife
c. Situation in which wife died.
d. Future plans and ideas with wife
e. Family Structure

The Positive ways of coping with the death of a loving soul-mate is:
a.Understanding the phases of grief one will go through
b.Fighting guilt that originates by positive thoughts and rational thinking
c.Having a few friends in front of whom one can express his entire emotional range
d.Keeping aside traditional views and giving time for self
e.Avoiding addictions
f.Avoiding anger/irritable situations by moving out of the place
g. Meditation 30min a day
h.Consult a professional psychiatrist if emotional pain is hampering with memory, sleep, appetite, work or social interactions.

For Further discussion, feel free to email me at
Dr.Hemant Mittal
Email –
Website –

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