The loss of a spouse is very real. Dealing with the grief, sorrow, and loneliness can cause emotional and physical health problems.
There are five stages of grief, also known as the Kubler-Ross Model.
There are no limits on time in the stages of grief. The friends and family of the grieving spouse need to observe for common signs such as: poor appetite, loss of sleep, hard to concentrate, trouble with decision making, guilt to still be alive, losing interest in their own care and resentment at the spouse for leaving them.
There is a common saying that "the surviving spouse is going to die of a broken heart." This is an actual medical diagnosis that has been proven by many doctors. "To die of a broken heart" is a syndrome called Taktsubo Cardiomyopathy. This can occur in both men and women. Men have a 22% chance of dying shortly after the death of a spouse, whereas women have a 17% chance. Men usually die first, but the women have a 90% chance of suffering from Taktsubo.
The life expectancy of a man is 83.5 yrs and a woman's is 79.5 yrs. The men tend to outlive women due to genetics, biological, and behavioral characteristics. The University of Glasgow did a study that tracked more than 4,000 married couples between the ages of 45-64 years old, they determined that the risk of death to widows and widowers has risen to 30% in 6 months after dying on the same day, or even weeks apart.
Taktsubo is curable, but unfortunately not always treated. In the event of losing a spouse, it's recommended that you seek either professional help or even join a grievance support group. It's also beneficial to have a family support system to help through the grievance process.