How to Cope with Grief and Sleep Alone

Nothing will ease your grief—at least, not for a while. But these tips will help you sleep, and sleep will help you heal.

By Ellen Michaud with Julie Bain from Sleep to Be Sexy Smart and Slim


  • 8.


    Preferably other widows. Several women who belonged to the same church in Spring Hill, Florida, banded together after the death of their husbands and called themselves the Merry Widows. One was an artist, another a real estate agent, and two others were homemakers.   At first they weren’t merry at all—like everybody else, they were devastated by their losses. But gradually as they met for lunch or dinner, picked each other up for church, and brought takeout or chicken soup to those who were sick, things changed. They joked—with a sometimes macabre humor that could startle those still married folks who overheard them—providing an understanding and caring for one another that soothed their adrenalized state.

  • 9.


    Books on grieving, particularly memoirs of survivors, can reassure you that many of the intense feelings keeping you up will someday ease.

  • 10.


    What would you tell your partner if you had a chance? Even if you don’t share the letter with anyone, the process of writing it may help you unload some of that adrenaline. If you’re angry, feel free to vent.

  • 11.


    Allow yourself to move through all the emotions associated with grieving—sadness, longing, guilt, anger, betrayal, the whole range of passionate emotion that allows you to be the loving, caring person you are. Don’t try to stiff-upper-lip it. You’ll only make getting to sleep harder, prolonging the grieving process.

  • 12.


    So many people will want to talk with you about your spouse and your grief. Friends will want to process their own grief by talking about it over and over. Be tough and tell them very clearly to leave you alone. Same goes for those whom who know only slightly. “I got very comfortable saying, `I don’t want to talk about this,’ ” says Naparstek.

  • 13.


    Write them down, share them with close friends, and joke about them. “I had a friend—a nurse—whose husband died of a heart attack,” Naparstek says. “I knew that she’d had a snootful of all the things people say. So I called and said, `Wanna get together for dinner? I’m buying. And we can talk about all the stupid things people say to new widows!’ “ She laughs. “We had a blast!”

  • 14.


    When you simply can’t sleep, talk to someone who can help you deal with the thoughts running through your head, such as another widow. Log on to the Web site or or if you’re a young widow, try Chat, get a cup of tea, then go back to bad.

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