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Significant Loss Can Trigger Midlife Crisis


How many times have you heard of someone going into a Midlife Crisis shortly after loosing a parent to death? Significant loss can trigger midlife crisis in some. Why? Because the death of someone we are close to often brings up issues related to our own mortality.

The loss of a parent, sibling or close friend may cause a man or woman to question how they are living their life. They may suddenly realize they have lived half their life and begin to question if this is how they want to live the rest.

For many, encountering death will cause their life to change radically. Their beliefs and value system will change. They may turn from someone who once valued their family and following social rules to someone who is more concerned with “finding themselves” regardless of who gets hurt.

I knew a woman, Karen who was an extremely successful Psychiatrist, loving mother and wife. Her mother died and it was almost as if she took Karen to the grave with her…the Karen we thought we knew. You would think a Psychiatrist would be better equipped to deal with the death of a parent. Karen, regardless of her training fell apart.

She quit her job, left her family and never looked back. Where did she wonder off to? She now lives and works on an Indian Reservation. She volunteers her time helping people who “need her help”.

In and of itself that is not a bad thing. I find it perplexing though that the people who need her most, her husband and children get nothing from her any longer. Karen will tell you that being a wife and mother was not a life she ever wanted. She did it because it was “expected” of her. According to Karen, she is now “living the life she was meant to live.”

How do we guard ourselves against such a transition? By knowing whom we are and what we want. By not compensating who we are and what we want because we think it is expected of us.

What do you do if your spouse changes drastically after significant loss? How you respond to their midlife crisis may determine whether you loose your marriage. If your spouse feels their needs to be change, you need to be open to the change needed.

You may end up on an Indian Reservation but at least you will have your marriage and spouse. That is fare better than being alone and wondering what the hell happened to the spouse you once knew. The only way to survive a spouse’s midlife crisis may be throwing caution to the wind and giving them the lead.

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