There isn't much information on the issues associated with the combination of grief and the menopause. So this is going to be rather shorter than I hoped it would be.
The symptoms of the menopause, such as lack of sleep, loss of self-confidence, low mood, anxiety, brain fog, weight changes, emotional overload, exhaustion and flare ups in other health conditions, can overlap with many of the experiences in grief and blur in together. This can make it harder to work out what is grief and what is the menopause and makes both feel worse. The stress associated with grief may also worsen menopause symptoms, and there is a possibility that stress could even bring on an earlier menopause.
There can be grief associated with the menopause itself, which could complicate the grief of bereavement. Menopause can bring up thoughts of the loss of youth and of aging, which may trigger grief about the loss of a partner.
For people who are grieving, the menopause can highlight the secondary loss of the chance of conceiving and carrying a baby. This can be especially hard for those who were trying for children at the time of their partner's death. The menopause also comes at a time where people may be caring for aging parents, or grieving their loss and missing their support.
The fact that the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and the symptoms of grief are so hard to separate may also mean that women (and trans and non-binary people) don't seek help for menopausal symptoms at what is already a difficult and overwhelming time.
Coping with grief and the menopause
Like grief, there is no one solution to the menopause. Be aware that the menopause may be masking or adding to your grief symptoms and be gentle with yourself. If you are struggling with the menopause talk to your doctor – there are options that can help you deal with the physical and psychological symptoms. Grief is bad enough without the menopause making it worse.
HRT can help with some symptoms (I have just started with HRT patches to see if they can help with my fluctuating body temperature and disturbed sleep).
The Menopause Charity's website has information, news and expert advice, and the NHS website has a section on 'Things you can do'.
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.