Monday, March 19, 2018

In Grief: Supporting A Partner in Mourning

[Reviewed and updated January 7, 2024]

When someone is going through a storm, your silent presence is more powerful than a million empty words.  ~ Thema Davis

If those who share their stories in our online Loss of a Love Relationship forum are any indication, individuals whose partners have lost a family member to death are often dismayed by the profound and often negative impact such a loss can have on the couple's relationship. As stated in an earlier post, we are all different from one another, not only in how we think, feel and behave, but also in how we mourn. If this is a couple's first experience with significant loss and they are unfamiliar with grief, they may misinterpret each other's behaviors, misunderstand their partner's needs and fail to meet their expectations. Hurt feelings and conflict may follow, and eventually their entire relationship can get derailed.

Still, it doesn't have to be that way.

There is a wealth of personal experience and useful information to be found in the articles gathered here, and I hope their content can help those who struggle with how to support a partner in grief:

Ambiguous Loss: When Grief Threatens A Love Relationship, by Marty Tousley

Betrayal, Fear of Separation and Unresolved Grief, by Marty Tousley

Death of a Parent: Negative Impact on A Couple’s Relationship, by Marty Tousley

Examining Death, Including the One I Caused, by Mark S. King

Five Crucial Things A Grieving Partner Needs You to Know by Susan Johnston

How Much Grief Can a Relationship Handle? by Amy Winchester

How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving by Daniela Tempesta

Loving My Wife Through Her Grief, by John Thompson

Second-Hand Grief by Laura Leigh Abby

When Grief Tests Relationships: How to Support Your Bereaved Partner, by Amrita Sharma

And here is a wonderful post that describes what happens between partners when they don't share their grief with each other ~ and what can happen when they do:
My Spouse Was Grieving Too, by Ashley Gamble
My dad made a decision that would forever change MY life. My whole life was destroyed. My world was turned upside down. My heart was shattered. My chances of making new memories with him were over. My, my, my…  
I couldn’t see past these thoughts. I was consumed with how much my life was affected, that I didn’t even notice my husband was grieving the loss of his father-in-law. When I finally stepped out of the “my” fog, I felt incredibly selfish that I had taken a chance away from my husband to grieve with me. I’m not great at opening up about my emotions and thought I should grieve on my own in private. When I made that decision, I then made a choice that affected more than just myself. I realized I was no different than my father in that way. 
My husband needed me to let him in so that we could grieve together. Not only did he need me, but I needed him as well and hadn’t even realized it . . . Read on here 
Your feedback is welcome! Please feel free to leave a comment or a question, or share a tip, a related article or a resource of your own in the Comments section below.
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