What to do When Facing a Separation or the Death of a Partner

The marriage relationship, unlike other family relationships, is the only one that is chosen freely and voluntarily. However, if it is not cultivated, cared for and built with much care, dedication and respect, it can break apart, ending in abandonment, separation or divorce.

This kind of relationship can also end with the death of one of the spouses, resulting in widowhood. In any of these cases, it is important to go through a healthy elaboration of the grieving process in response to the loss.

A key element to consider is that in these relationships they may become so intimately connected that any separation threatens the life project. This is what makes this loss such a devastating event, regardless of the cause, whether it be death, abandonment, separation or divorce.

When the marriage relationship has been constructive and rewarding, the pain of such loss is usually very deep and significant, having a high impact on someone’s life. When the breakup of the couple’s relationship occurs after a process of deterioration of the bond, it will cause strong diverse and ambiguous feelings. It is possible to feel sort of a relief at the end of an unsatisfactory or difficult relationship, and even begin to hope at the possibility of rebuilding life. However, it is very possible that the loss will still cause pain and sadness.

For example, it is normal to feel pain due to attachment or remorse for not having done certain things. On the other hand, others may feel released and relieved because their relationship was “toxic” or “stormy.” In both cases, people should seek professional support in order to heal the wounds left by this type of bond as part of a healthy mourning process.

The grieving process is universal, and it is the same for everyone. The main factor that differentiates one human being from another, considering the uniqueness of each individual, is how each stage of the process is dealt with. Therefore, we conclude that this is a personal and non-transferable process.


  • Loss due to death: the life project is affected. The fear of resuming life alone leads the bereaved to have feelings related to “I don’t want to live without him or her.”

The older people are, the more difficult it is to overcome the death of a partner due to the intimacy built over time, and also the difficulty of rebuilding life at an old age. Additionally, grief can affect their wellness, and it is very possible that elderly people will experience health issues as a result of such loss, and it can also increase the risk of accidents, shortening life expectancy.

  • Loss due to abandonment and/or separation: “I refuse to believe and accept that there is a problem in my relationship”. This is often the thought prior to an abandonment. In such case it can significantly affect self-esteem and self-confidence. Depending on the treatment or the way in which they have lived together, it may lead one of the members to make the decision to leave the relationship and terminate it. Usually there is great pain prior to separation or abandonment, which must be addressed and healed.

These partners have generally refused, for a long period of time, to accept or work on the difficulties that led to the breakup. The abuse, violence and/or lack of love that accompany this process significantly affects the mental health and balance of the couple. Guilt and resentment has often accompanied them even long after the relationship has ended.

And not only what has been lived, but also what has not been lived (unfulfilled projects and unfulfilled expectations) can cause pain. It also hurts to see the relationship come to an end.


If the loss is due to death…

In a circumstance as painful as the death of a loved one work must be done to redirect life’s projects and goals, and understand the transition that such a moment implies. This can best be achieved with the support of professionals. It is not an easy task. However, it is a process that if carried out step by step you will have a greater acceptance of the natural cycle of life, improve the emotional health and overall well-being.

When the loss occurs in a long-lasted marriage, the more difficult and painful it is to be able to recover personal identity and recognize that everyone is capable of living without a partner. It is normal to have many fears, but accompaniment and therapy can help significantly to overcome this difficult stage that can bring loneliness. On the other hand, one can also assume independence, autonomy and freedom, which are all aspects that can accompany widowhood, in a healthy and dignified way.

However, when the relationship is not rewarding and meaningful, the grief can be accepted in a more constructive way, as a new opportunity to start another way of life, but it does not mean it will be a smooth process.

If the loss is due to separation…

In healthy relationships, one of the spouses may realize that the affection which united them has disappeared or has been changed to the point that they need to adjust their relationship with new feelings, and perhaps take different paths.

The loss of love by one of the spouses may cause great pain. It causes dramatic changes such as loneliness, lack of support, and the loss of common projects. Nonetheless they must be willing to assume with maturity and mutual respect the challenges that imply independence, autonomy and freedom that come with this decision.

When the relationship is somewhat troublesome, the kind that causes damage or pain over the years, feelings of anger and revenge may be seen at the time of separation, and could lead one or both of them to start economic dispute, litigation or fights related to the guardianship of the children, which can have more serious or even devastating effects.

If the loss is due to abandonment…

Abandonment can be interpreted as a sign of contempt and can greatly affect the self-esteem of the other spouse. This usually hurts the remaining person, and it may cause identity confusion, because there is no way to confront it and understand the reasons for the abandonment.

The most important thing is to go through the grieving process properly, is to be able to find oneself and restructure the identity as a human being. From this point on, a new life project must be planned to provide tranquility and fulfillment.


If you are going through any of these situations do not be discouraged. Reorganize your life project. You may consider one of these three scenarios.

* Make a new life project, where you think about yourself, your well-being and loneliness (that is, the possibility of being without a partner).

* Continue, by yourself, with the life project you had before you parted with your partner.

* Make the decision to build your own life project, but with someone else.


Loneliness can be an opportunity to find oneself and to expand personal worldview. In fact, it is necessary for healing. This means learning to deal with sadness. The person must be patient and allow the wounds to heal, but also seek to achieve personal growth and to find the balance so needed.

Rethink about the quality of life you want for yourself, because your new future depends on your plan and the disposition to execute it.

Build new ties. It’s natural for ties to be broken because of the absence of a partner. Open up to a new social life. Do not neglect old friends, but also stay open to build new friendships.

Define your new identity. In the married life there is a tendency to lose one’s own identity and assimilate the spouse’s, or part of it. You may seek professional help if you are having trouble with that.

Love Breakups and the loss of a partner will bring a host of feelings that emerge in the stage of mourning, and overcoming them implies a personal decision along with professional support in order to reorganize the life project. When carried out by experts and with the support of close circles such as family and friends, this increases the chance of having a healthy grieving process and contributes to a better quality of life.

We hope this information has helped you to understand more about these difficult situations. If you still need more information or professional help, don’t hesitate to contact us.

We can help and advise you on how to rethink your life project and how to overcome the loss of your partner.

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