Living alone after bereavement

Living alone after bereavement

The death of a loved one can be devastating, especially if that person is someone you have built and shared your life with. This is often a spouse or partner, but might also be a close relative, or a friend. You don’t have to have shared a home with someone for their death to leave you with a profound sense of loss, and living alone after bereavement can be very difficult. 

Coping with grief is difficult at the best of times – and can be more so when you are facing stretches of time by yourself. You may be experiencing shock, numbness and deep sadness, and you may go through a rollercoaster of emotions every day. You may find yourself dealing with practicalities before you feel ready to – for example organising the funeral, dealing with lawyers, and in some cases ensuring that your home and finances are secure. You will also be handling others’ reactions to the news. All of this could understandably leave you feeling overwhelmed, anxious and exhausted. 

If the person you have lost is someone you lived with, then you may also find yourself having to get used to a very different way to living. 

There are no set timescales or guidelines about how to create a new life without your loved one, and you should never feel pressured into feeling you have to ‘be okay.’ In the short term, the most important thing you can do is to look after yourself – eating well, sleeping when you need to sleep, and leaning on others to do the heavy lifting for you when you can. It does get easier – even if it might not feel like it at the moment. 

Help and support

The following organisations specialise in information, advice and services for people who have experienced bereavement, and are a good starting point. You might also want to consider joining one of our own community groups to meet people who have been through similar experiences. 

Founded by Linda Magistris after the death of her partner in 2014, the Good Grief Trust collect stories and provide practical advice. For those who are UK based, they run a series of helplines, including one for those coping with a sudden bereavement. 

Cruse is the leading national charity for bereaved people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They provide advice, and also provide training for organisations working with bereaved people. 

Supporting older people to live independently, and offer advice across a range of topics, including bereavement. Run GriefChat, a free online counselling service. 

Sue Ryder offer information and advice, free online counselling, and also run an active online bereavement community for anyone who has lost someone.  

Age UK are the largest charity in the UK offering advice and support for older people. They have a section on bereavement, and direct to Cruse and Sue Ryder (above) for more intensive support. 

Starting to live well, alone

Living alone is a very different way of life, and at first it can feel overwhelming – particularly when you are dealing with trauma. These articles specifically about living alone following bereavement are a good starting point: 

The following articles from our own collection might be useful too as you start to get to grips with solo living. 

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