In previous posts, we’ve talked about different aspects of grief. For example, it is essential to accept it as an inevitable part of life. We must normalize the related emotions and remove any stigma. In addition, I offered some guidance for how you can handle grief when it emerges in your life. But what about when it’s your partner who has suffered a loss?
This is yet another inevitable scenario. However, despite how common it is, grieving with your partner is still quite challenging. Since you will be the person they lean on, it’s crucial that you do some work to be prepared.
1. Encourage Them to Feel Whatever They Need to Feel
Our culture, in general, is grief-phobic. It’s a taboo topic, and thus, too many of us feel shame as we endure bereavement. Be the voice of reason and compassion in your partner’s life. Let them cry. Give them room to be moody. Perhaps most of all, be ready to listen to them.
2. Give Them Space
There will inevitably be times when your partner needs alone time. They need to process their thoughts and emotions. There is no “right” way to grieve, so prepare to be flexible.
3. Don’t Repress Your Own Grief
There is a reasonable chance that you will also be grieving on some level. If nothing else, your partner’s sorrow will be the source of pain for you. Your challenge is to also feel what you need to feel without overwriting your spouse’s grief process.
4. Avoid Clichés
For example, avoid stuff like:
- “They’re in a better place.”
- “Just be strong.”
- “Look on the bright side!”
- “They wouldn’t want you to be sad.”
Be very mindful of your words.
5. Help With the Details
Your partner may be tasked with travel plans, funeral arrangements, and more. Undoubtedly, they will be overwhelmed. You can lighten their load by stepping up and tackling some of the logistics. Another valuable option is to handle the phone calls, texts, and emails. Lots of folks may be reaching out to express condolences, get details, and more. You can make a huge difference by helping with such potentially exasperating tasks.
6. Take the Lead When it Comes to the Kids
If children are involved, they’ll need love and attention in a time like this. Your partner may not have enough to spread around. Be ready to do more than usual when it comes to caring for and comforting the kids.
7. Take Breaks From Mourning
Encourage your partner to slowly introduce some balance into their life. You can honor a loss and still do things like going to the gym or watching a movie. You will be the practical voice they need to hear when the walls are closing in.
8. Practice Self-Care Together
Speaking of taking breaks, everyone involved needs to focus on self-care. This is a priority at all times. During a bereavement period, it is non-negotiable. Talk gently to your significant other and lead by example when it comes to elements like:
- Getting enough sleep and keeping a steady sleep schedule.
- Making healthy dietary choices.
- Engaging in some daily physical activity and exercise.
- Cultivating stress management and relaxation techniques.
9. Do Not Set a Time Limit
Grief does not follow a linear agenda. It comes and goes. It ebbs and flows. So, do not urge your spouse to “move on.” If they put pressure on themselves, remind them to go with the flow and do what feels right.
Counseling in a time of mourning is a powerful tool. If you and your partner have endured a loss, let’s talk soon.