When your spouse dies, there can be an emptiness so hard to describe. Many surviving spouses can easily slip into depression. They often question if they will ever find joy again.

Grief is experienced differently for each person. While there are five stages of grief, it is understood that these stages are not sequential.

Also, how long one stays in each stage varies. Once you accept this concept, it’s easier to be patient with yourself.

To find joy again, be open to having waves of it – a short moment interspersed in your day. Accept it for what it is and savor the feeling of joy.

Here are some suggestions to help you on your journey to find joy.


It often helps to shift your focus from yourself to helping others. Even though you want to sit in your home and not go anywhere, challenge yourself to try one volunteer opportunity.

If you belong to a religious organization, find a volunteer opportunity through the programs they support. Another option is to provide meals for a shelter or work at a local food bank.

If you’re struggling to interact with people, then look for a volunteer opportunity at a local animal shelter. Volunteers are needed to walk and socialize dogs.

No matter which volunteer opportunity you choose, the objective is to do something that gets you out of your home and preoccupy your mind – even if it’s only for an hour.


If there’s a comedy you enjoyed watching, then stream it. Another way to laugh is looking at funny pet videos on YouTube.

These moments of joy will help you take a break from your grief. You’ll find laughing out loud releases built up tension. It’ll give you a fresh perspective.


Silence can be deafening and compound your grief. Find a joyful noise that brings a smile to your face.

It can be a short noise such as a small breeze gently tickling the wind chimes on your porch. Or the soft gurgle of your coffee pot letting you know your coffee is ready.

It can be longer, such as a melody to a favorite song. No matter if it’s short or long, if it makes you smile, then it’s worth listening.

Finding joy again after your spouse dies takes time. You’ll have brief moments of joy quickly followed by sorrow. Be patient with yourself during this time. As time moves on, you’ll find longer moments of joy.


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”