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How To Deal With Grief After Losing A Spouse

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By: Jackie Walters


The depression and anxiety that can set in after the loss of a spouse can be devastating, and most of us don’t know quite how to deal with those feelings, especially when they hang around for weeks or even months. Losing a spouse is difficult for everyone, but for seniors the experience is a little different, as they are entering a stage of life that makes leaning on a lifelong companion a comfort. Because everyone copes with grief differently, there’s no one way to handle it; knowing what works best for you is important for you to be able to heal.

 

It’s also important to understand that grief and sadness take a while to come to terms with. Many people still feel an acute sense of loss 18 months after losing a loved one, although those feelings tend to abate soon after that. The key is to remember that you will begin to feel better after some time has passed, and that those feelings won’t last forever.

 

Here are some of the best ways to cope with grief and sadness.

 


Be kind to yourself

 

It’s important not to place any expectations on yourself during this time. Everyone grieves differently, and although there are typically five stages of grief that most people experience – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – you may feel a completely different range of emotions, or they may come in a different order. Whatever you’re feeling, it’s normal after the loss of someone who was close to you. You may feel angry at your spouse for leaving you, or wish it was you instead of them. Allow yourself to have those feelings and try not to place limits on yourself. Grief is unique to each and every person.

 

Don’t keep it inside

 

Find ways to express your feelings. Keeping your emotions bottled up, either because it’s painful to talk about your loss or because you don’t want to burden anyone with your grief, can make the process worse. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a friend or family member, consider seeking a counselor or therapist who specializes in grief, or join a grief support group. Or, if that’s not right for you, keep a journal and write in it daily. Being able to get your thoughts out onto paper can be extremely helpful.

 

Stick to your routine

 

It might seem difficult or impossible, but sticking to your normal routine can help you cope with your feelings a little better. Try to do something productive every day; make a piece of art, clean a room in the house, or go for a long walk with the dog. In fact, spending time with animals can be very helpful during this time, as they can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can be hard to stick to your routine if your spouse was the one who kept things in order by cleaning the house, staying on top of bills, or keeping up the yard. Don’t shy away from hiring help to get your life back to normal whether that is hiring a housekeeper or caregiver. You might ask a trusted family member to help with the financials and ensure you don’t miss a payment.

 

Take care of yourself

 

Grief and sadness can make you feel like all you want to do is sleep, or you might feel like you never want to sleep again. Your eating habits will change, your stress levels will fluctuate, and your moods might make you feel like you don’t even know yourself. This is all normal, but everyone copes with these things differently, and it’s important to find healthy ways to deal with them. Turning to alcohol to “numb the pain” might seem like a good idea at the time, but alcohol only makes things worse when the effects wear off. Instead, turn to exercise or volunteer at a local charitable organization. Use this difficult period in your life to grow closer to your children and grandchildren - who will be sure to put a smile on your face; or seek the solace of friends. This too shall pass, but you must take of yourself while it does.


Our staff provides excellent funeral planning services.

We have years of experience caring for families from all walks of life, cultures and faiths. Our unsurpassed staff and our family provide kind, caring, professional service. Each family comes to us because they know we are leaders in our profession who are dedicated to excellence in service, adhere to the highest funeral industry standards, and have exceptional integrity. We consistently earn phenomenally high customer satisfaction survey results.

Our licensed, professional staff is here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Please call 703-998-9200 anytime. We will even come to you to make arrangements in the comfort of your home.

Prompt, compassionate service is always just a phone call away, where and when you need it.


D. Scott Sanderford

D. Scott Sanderford

Managing Partner & Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer

Scott became the Managing Partner of Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home in 2014. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Scott returned to Alexandria with over 34 years of experience in the death care profession. He attended North Carolina State University and Campbell University prior to receiving his degree in Mortuary Science in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Scott is an active supporter of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Human Rights Campaign, and several animal rescue organizations. Scott is also a member of the Cremation Association of North America and the North Carolina Funeral Directors Association. He enjoys spending time with his two spoiled Beagles and traveling.

Email: scott.sanderford@carriageservices.com


Shelby Judge

Shelby Judge

Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer

Shelby joined the staff of Everly-Wheatley in 2014 as a Licensed Funeral Director. She is originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, California. Having spent her college years in Nashville, Tennessee, Shelby obtained her Associate's Degree in Mortuary Science from John A. Gupton College and her Bachelor of Arts Degree in General Science from Middle Tennessee State University. Shelby resides in Alexandria, Virginia and enjoys spending time with her family.

Email: shelby.judge@carriageservices.com


Tharon Stengel

Tharon Stengel

Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer

Tharon graduated from Miami-Dade College in 2011 with an Associate’s of Science/ Mortuary Sciences degree.  He moved from Florida to Northern VA in the summer of 2013 to further his career.  He joined the team at Everly-Wheatley in May 2017 as a Licensed Funeral Director.  Tharon is an avid enthusiast of the American Railroad transportation industry, WW1 and WW2.  He enjoys a good night of burgers and gaming with his friends.



Email: tharon.stengel@carriageservices.com


Jennifer Charlton

Jennifer Charlton

Licensed Funeral Director/Embalmer


Email: jennifer.charlton@carriageservices.com


Jill Luterek

Jill Luterek

Funeral Service Intern

Jill graduated from Kansas City Community College in 2013 with an Associate’s of Science/ Mortuary Sciences degree.  She moved back to Northern VA several years ago.   She joined the team at Everly-Wheatley in March 2017 as a Funeral Service Intern. 


Email: jill.luterek@carriageservices.com


Linda Everly Smith

Linda Everly Smith

Office Manager

Linda is a third generation Everly and has been serving the needs of our families in the Northern Virginia community since 1997. A native of Alexandria, Linda graduated from Lake Braddock Secondary School and is a longtime resident of Springfield, Virginia. She, along with her husband and children, attend a local Christian church. Drawing on her background in Cosmetology and Banking, Linda does everything from hair and make-up for those in our care, to Accounts Receivable/Payable.

At the office, she has a reputation for firmly ensuring that all staff members are held accountable to their responsibilities. Simultaneously, she is a pillar of support and an excellent resource for our team.

Email: linda.smith@carriageservices.com


Lauren Everly Perry

Lauren Everly Perry

Executive Funeral Administrator

Lauren is the great-granddaughter of founding father, Josiah S. Everly. She is proud to be a part of the heritage that has made Everly-Wheatley a reputable establishment and a household name, historically serving the families of Alexandria and the Northern Virginia area for over 150 years. She has worked at both the Alexandria and Fairfax locations off and on while attending college at the Art Institute of Washington for Interior Design and accompanying her husband, a prior service U.S Army Soldier, to duty stations near and far. She wears many hats, tapping into her passions for organization, event planning, photography and public relations. Putting her degree to good use, she has recently designed, overseen and completed a major renovation of the facility. She is often likened to her mother, Linda Smith, when it comes to keeping things orderly, efficient and professional.

Email: lauren.perry@carriageservices.com


Amber Rich

Amber Rich

Licensed Embalmer

Amber joined the staff in March of 2017 as a licensed embalmer. She is originally from Chicago, Illinois and moved to the area with her husband in 2013 to pursue their careers. She graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science in 2011 with an Associates of Applied Science, as well as a Mortuary Science degree. She is a member of the Pi Sigma Eta, National Mortuary Science Honors Fraternity and was also awarded the Richard G.Reichle Sr. Restorative Art Award. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, music, and art.


Email: amber.rich@carriageservices.com


Justin Walt

Justin Walt

Certified Crematory Operator

Justin joined the staff of Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home in 2013 as a Certified Crematory Operator. A native of Prince George's County, Maryland, Justin graduated from University of Maryland University College with a degree in Criminal Justice. He enjoys camping and traveling.

Email: justin.walt@carriageservices.com


Judy Brinegar

Judy Brinegar

Funeral Assistant - Front Desk

Judy began at Everly-Wheatley as a part-time Funeral Assistant in 2014 and just recently took on a full-time position with responsibilities including management of the front desk and all its associated tasks. Originally from Illinois, Judy moved to Virginia in the early 80s and raised her family here. She has two children and two grand-dogs that she loves spending time with. She is always willing to assist where needed, learning all aspects of the funeral industry and support the staff as a whole to ensure streamlined operations so that our families are served to the best of our abilities.

Email: judy.brinegar@carriageservices.com


Linda Ellmore

Linda Ellmore

Funeral Assistant - Death Certificates

Linda, a native to Alexandria, graduated from Groveton High School. She has been married for almost 50 years and enjoys actively participating in the lives of her two children and four grandchildren. They are avid sports fans, attending both local high school and professional baseball games. Linda joined the staff of Everly-Wheatley Funeral Home in 2003 and is mostly responsible for coordinating and completing Death Certificates, maintaining important in-house documents, embellishing facility rooms with memorial flower arrangements, memorabilia and refreshments for Visitations, and assisting on Funeral Services. She is a vital part of our operation, and we are so grateful to have her.

Email: linda.ellmore@carriageservices.com


Anthony Celis

Anthony Celis

Funeral Assistant

Anthony brings with him an encouraging enthusiasm and willingness to assist in a wide range of tasks and responsibilities with the utmost earnestness and respect. The oldest of five children, he was born in Peru and moved to Virginia when he was seven. He is literate in both Spanish and English. Since 2008, he has been an active member in the Boy Scouts of America, and in 2012, he earned the esteemed Eagle Award by orchestrating a community beneficial park clean-up project. Upon graduating from T.C. Williams High School in 2013, he served a two-year Mission in Utah, where he learned an extreme amount of patience and developed great leadership abilities. Anthony is also dedicated to playing on two local sports teams for volleyball and American football. His long-term ambition is to become a Pediatric Surgeon in Northern Virginia and will soon be starting studies at George Mason University. Employment with Everly-Wheatley will afford him the opportunity to develop an even greater compassion and caring when dealing with families during a time of crisis - now and in the future.

Email: anthony.celis@carriageservices.com


Elizabeth  Lee

Elizabeth Lee

Funeral Assistant

Elizabeth Calhoun Lee joined us in September 2015. She has lived in Virginia for almost 20 years, after growing up as a proud Army Brat. Liz majored in English at the University of South Carolina, and got her Master's in Counseling at Denver Seminary in 1996. She and Jong Won Lee had a Korean wedding ceremony in Chicago on September 9, 2001 and flew into Reagan Airport early on the morning of September 11, shortly before the first plane hit the World Trade Center. In 2010, she was thrilled to finally have her long-awaited first baby, John Elijah. In February 2015, Liz and Jong encountered Danielle Everly DiMarino, who helped arrange the funeral of their infant daughter. Shortly after her loss, Liz began to consider a position as a Funeral Assistant. Liz works part-time at Everly-Wheatley so she can spend time with her favorite little Blessed Sacrament kindergartener, John Elijah Lee. She considers it an honor to serve other families in the midst of bereavement.

Email: elizabeth.lee@carriageservices.com


Edwin Perez-Castro

Edwin Perez-Castro

Funeral Assistant

Starting out working part-time, Edwin has recently taken on a much more involved role with us as a Funeral Assistant.  Of El Salvadorian decent, he is the youngest of four siblings, and was born and raised in Alexandria, VA.  A 2016 graduate of Edison High School, he proudly partook in bringing his Lacrosse team to the 5A Conference Regionals as 2nd Defender.  In his free time, he still enjoys playing recreational sports such as soccer, football, tennis and volleyball.  His youthful vigor and literacy in both Spanish and English are valued assets to best serve the multicultural needs of the families whose loved one we have taken into our care.     



Janet Barnett

Janet Barnett

Funeral Assistant

Raised in Alexandria, Janet retired from the City's Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities as the Deputy Director in 2007 and served as the Executive Director of Senior Services of Alexandria from 2007 to 2013. She joined the staff of Everly-Wheatley as a part-time Funeral Assistant in 2014. Janet volunteers in a number of local organizations and is most proud of her daughter Susan, a teacher, and son Louis, a lawyer. Her eclectic style, professionalism and expansive social network greatly lend themselves to keeping us connected with the community in which we serve.

Email: janet.barnett@carriageservices.com


Clarke Slaymaker

Clarke Slaymaker

Funeral Assistant

Clarke joined the staff of Everly Wheatley Funeral Home as a Funeral Assistant and Certified Crematory Operator. A native to Alexandria, Clarke, recently retired from Fairfax County Fire & Rescue after 30 years of service. Married for almost 30 years, Clarke enjoys spending time with his family from Virginia to North Carolina.



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