Posted by: manjitsandhu | October 22, 2009

Which is More Stressful: The Death or Divorce of a Spouse?

A few key factors are needed in order to know which is more stressful for a person, the death of a spouse or a divorce from the spouse. Circumstances before, during, and after a death or divorce as well as the emotional well being of the hurt spouse prior to and after these life-altering changes determine the stress experienced.

It is always stressful to lose a spouse whether or not he or she was ill for a short or long period of time. In cases of a long illness, arrangements are often made for financial and living security for the surviving spouse before their spouse leaves this life. This installs a feeling of reality of the impending loss. Those married for decades feel as much a loss of losing their lifelong companion as those who were only married a short time to their recently found soul mate and were still finding out about each other’s likes and dislikes. When a spouse dies suddenly and without warning, the surviving spouse often questions why their spouse was taken from them, and they may blame themselves. In couples who have been married for decades, the surviving spouse often grieves themselves to an early demise.

It is important to know the reasons why spouses divorce. Some couples may have jumped into marriage too soon without being ready for the commitment. Although opposites do attract, couples need similar likes and dislikes for a marriage to last. The wants and needs of some couples change as they grow older, and they become unhappy with each other. Severe emotional trauma may be caused by unfaithful spouses who have broken their monogamous wedding vows. The hurt spouse may question why he or she did not see any pattern of unfaithfulness and blame themselves. If the wrong-doing spouse left with no word or very little reason as well as leaving a heavy financial responsibility of bills and children, the soon-to-be single parent feels overwhelmed and unable to make decisions. Severe depression, mistrust, and harmful thoughts and actions can result.

It is hard to say which is more stressful for a person, the death of a spouse or a divorce from the spouse. The death of a spouse offers closure if he or she was suffering from an illness. Divorces involving children result in spouses either sharing in their children’s lives or constant court battles. Divorces without children or where grown children are involved offers some closure but not enough healing closure for the spouse who was cheated on. The stress resulting from both circumstances can last for years and affects all family members.

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Manjit Sandhu


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