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SALT LAKE CITY -- Losing a spouse to death or divorce is a difficult situation. Sometimes feelings of inadequacy surface; often the pressures of life interfere with peace of mind, especially when children are involved.
The Lord tells us we can on depend upon him for support. In Isaiah 53:4 it reads, “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…”
With those words in mind, here are six tips I have used as a single parent after the death of my husband.
1.Pray every day: There is a certain amount of peace in morning and evening prayer and reading scripture verses. With devotion to God each morning, we can face the day of working and raising children, stay on target with daily tasks, and when lonely, find comfort.
Children also respond to calm parents and many times follow the example in the home. Ardeth G. Kapp said in a 1985 October general conference talk, "Holy scriptures can answer every question you may ever have in life.”
2. Keep a schedule: Keep a schedule or routine to help follow through on goals and tasks. A schedule not only provides a purpose to carry us through our most difficult times but keeps us preoccupied with good things. On some days it would seem easier to just stay in bed and do nothing, but keeping a schedule of activities motivates us to move.
3.Use hobbies and interests to fill your life: Hobbies can be an important part of a life filled with career, church callings and family time. Music, art, writing, physical exercise, sports and other interests can help soothe troubled souls. This can also be a venue for service or volunteer work as we help neighbors and members of the community.
4.Get help: Everyone needs a listening ear, and communicating one-on-one with a trained therapist can really help. Dealing with death and divorce can open a Pandora’s Box of repressed feelings many are unable to understand. A therapist is a good third party to help deal with anger and burdens as well as how to deal with children. It’s not a sign of weakness to visit a therapist for help in a short-term situation. Prayerfully consider who to talk with and who can be an unbiased third party to help with emotional difficulties.
5.Keep a social life: Many find it shocking to return home to no other adult in the house. Any social gathering is a big boost to morale. The companionship of other people helps our perspective. Join in church activities and visit with friends and family, especially those who have gone through the same tragedy.
6.Start journaling: If you haven't kept a journal or diary, try it. Not everyone wants or likes to write but it can help to remove pent-up feelings. Find a notebook and write down your feelings. Write what bothers you or what uplifts you. Write about your grief or write what is great about your day. You don’t even have to read it if you don’t want to. If, by the end of the notebook you don’t like what you wrote, just throw it away. Writing your feelings down helps to clear your mind and often allows you a better approach to other tasks.
Valerie Steimle is the mother of nine children living in Alabama and is the author of four books including "Of One Heart: Being Single in the LDS World."