Significant Loss Can Trigger Midlife Crisis

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How Significant Loss Can Trigger a 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 or, even a job 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 of their life.

For many, encountering death or other significant loss 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 or it is what someone else wants for us.

People pleasers and conflict avoiders are more susceptible to a midlife crisis. Why? They spend their lives pleasing others instead of themselves or, avoiding what they truly desire out of fear of a conflict. The wife or husband who spends 20 years capitulating to the needs of a spouse, parents and children set themselves up for emotional upheaval at midlife.

3 ways to avoid emotional upheaval at midlife:

1. Marry someone you feel safe communicating your wishes and desires to.

2. Make life about more than your family and work. Don't deny needs you have that can only be met outside those two things. It may be as simple as playing golf on the weekends or, take time away for a hobby you are passionate about. It's important to stay independent and not allow others to define you.

3. One plus one doesn't equal two. Don't buy into the antiquated belief that marriage means spending all your time with your spouse, sharing the same interest as your spouse and becoming, "one." You can "cleave unto your spouse" without losing your individualization.


What do you do if your spouse changes drastically after a 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.