Death scientifically occurs when the body’s biological tasks of a living organism are interrupted. If death is not a result of other causes, human beings and the mass of other, breathing things will ultimately die from senescence. The leading cause of death in developing countries is an infectious disease. When the cause is unknown, the death is classified as natural this is considered manifold organ malfunction (Best, n.d).
The “unnatural” grounds of one’s demise are regularly specified as misfortune, suicide, and murder. Accidents, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease are listed as the recurring death causes in industrialized nations. Cardiovascular is the leading death cause and accidents are the least. However, Alzheimer’s victims die of complications like a cerebrovascular condition, a lung condition, or pneumonia hence their deaths are often declared to have been caused by these complications.
Death, whatever the cause, unexpected or otherwise is always a big blow to the deceased’s family, friends, and colleagues. This is because they suffer a loss as no one can replace the dead person. Just like birth, death is a natural stage of life that is bound to happen eventually, nothing lasts forever. Yet we have such limited information about the same, and many are ill-prepared to deal with it. Death often affects people when it happens to their infant, spouse, family member and in some instances, a friend, depending on the strength of the bond shared with the deceased.
This paper seeks to understand spousal death and how best to deal with it especially if the death is accidental and abrupt.
This is the loss of one’s wife o husband through death. It may be natural or ‘unnatural’. In the case of Susan, her husband’s death in a car crash can be categorized as’ unnatural’. Susan is a mother with young three children and now has to deal with the fact that she is a widow.
Accidental deaths are sudden and may cause unexpected thoughts and reactions (Goodman, 2000)). The results of death by an accident are often surprise and disbelief, with the affected faced with incredulity due to the unpredicted and overwhelming nature of the incident. One is never completely ready for death and its consequences no matter how unavoidable it seems, but when it is abrupt, people are left feeling rather vulnerable. Susan is faced with these feelings as she just lost her husband in a car accident.
In the event of her husband’s death, Susan was faced with a hard time as she had lost a friend, early in life, and a partner with whom they had dreams and plans with and now these aspirations face annihilation. She has to come up with a new world as the one she shared with her late husband has vanished. The task of re-building herself and of the children a new world may prove to be a little bit daunting (Levinson, 2004).
If a man or woman loses his or her spouse, they have to adjust, for both their sake and that of their children. The children have to be involved in this stage, because the family has to work on the grief as a group.
The therapist, (Levinson, 2004), proposes a three-step adjustment mold.
The first stage of this mold is to deal with the preliminary distress. This stage is the shock stage or the trading water stage. Exploration for stability, dealing with practical concerns, the loss and dealing with the doubt are the characteristics of this stage (Levinson, 2004). Due to the shock, Susan now feels numb a feeling common to the bereaved families that are left behind. The children, even as young as two, will pick it up from non-verbal communication, that something is wrong. The older ones can notice it more easily. However, Susan’s children are a bit too young to comprehend death clearly, so she needs to sit them down to talk about what happened and the changes expected. The children may experience as much grief and doubt that their dad is dead, as much as Susan at the thought that she has lost her husband. If she finds it hard for her to talk to the children, she may have a trusted relative, as the grandparents do it.
At the shock stage, Susan and her family may find crying a bit difficult. Often, they will feel physically exhausted, weak and cold. It is advised that one keeps warm and gets enough rest, as these physical signs soon pass and the numb sentiments are replaced by other emotions like anger and guilt (Dealing with sudden death; Information for survivors, 2003). This is the stage where Susan and her family are.
The next stage in the mold is the ‘Pseudo-equilibrium’ or the great disturbance stage (The Impact of Parental Death on Children, 2001). At this stage, the bereaved spouse is expected to redefine him or herself by meeting new people and going for new experiences like exploring the world. Joining a widow/widower’s support group is advisable, as here she will meet people who can share in her pain. To get to this stage, Susan needs to acknowledge the loss of her husband and the changes to come. Decisions ad choices, mostly, new and very different ones need to be made. The children also need to understand that their dad is dead and some things have to change. Susan needs to deal with the fact that she is the father and the mother to her children and be ready for the challenging duties ahead (Levinson, 2004).
The last stage is the ‘Renewal and Resolution’ stage. It is also called the ‘grand awakening stage’. Susan will need to come to terms with the possibilities related to continuing to be alive. She will need to exercise to help herself adjust to her loss, take care of the legal and financial issues, and relate to the other people who desire to help. As the healing progresses, similar steps will be applied to help her set steer her life in the right direction and make new friendships (Levinson, 2004).
Death is a part of life that is hard to deal with as it involves losing someone permanently. Dealing with a loved one’s death is a difficult process that involves strong feelings of anger, guilt, and sorrow. Mourning periods last different times, depending on an individual and the relationship they enjoyed with the deceased. In Susan’s case, the situation is complex because she has to deal with the police, the insurance, and probably the court system. Susan should however mourn her husband freely as this is a vital step of the healing process.
As for the children, it is important to note that immediately after a parent’s death; children are often too shocked to react. This should not be taken to mean that they are okay. The loss of a child’s parent affects both their clinical and physical health. The death of a parent should be explained to children, using a language they can understand. If Susan wishes to start dating again, she needs to understand that there are a lot of obstacles to be faced if one decides to date again after the death of a spouse. That this will be solely her decision but it is important to consider her children’s attitude towards it. This will avoid future problems. One needs to be careful though, to finish mourning for the deceased so that they do not try to replace the dead spouse with someone else because no one can. Susan will need to be sure that this is a chapter her as an individual, and the children are ready to embark on. Susan should depend on the support of her family and her friends to help her in the healing process and taking care of the children. She should also strive to maintain a positive attitude as this is a good way to keep depression, which could prove catastrophic at bay.
Best, B.(n.d.). Causes of death. Web.
Dealing with sudden death; Information for survivors (2003) British Columbia Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Web.
Goodman, R. F. (2000) Coping with grief after a sudden death. Web.
The Impact of Parental Death on Children (2001). The Ohio State University. Web.
Levinson, D.S. (2004) Surviving the Death of Your Spouse U.S.A.: New Harbinger Publications ISBN-13.