Helping a Spouse through the Grieving Process
When our spouse is sick or injured, we try to provide assistance in their journey to getting well. Some things come naturally for us as spouses, like preparing soup or helping with daily activities. However, there are some situations where the ways to support our spouse are not as black-and-white.
When a spouse loses a loved one, it can truly be a life-changing experience. For many individuals, it is important for their husband or wife to help them through such a difficult time. So, how do we help our spouse through the loss of a loved one?
First and foremost, it is important to know that everyone grieves differently. Some people want to talk about the loss and some would rather deal with issues internally. Even though we may have lost a parent or sibling, it is not best to assume our spouse feels the same way we did during that time. Avoid using phrases like, "I know how you feel," or minimizing the loss by comparing it to your own. Let your spouse grieve in their own way, but let them know that you are there to support them any way you can.
Second, be willing to be silent. We often want to share our opinions or lend advice to our spouse in an attempt to help them through their grief. However, we must be willing to listen as our spouse shares his or her feelings. Allow them to talk about anything they want. Allow them to express the emotion they feel, whether it is sadness, joy, or anger. Allow them to tell stories, laugh, and cry. These are all normal ways of grieving. When our spouse works through grief internally, sometimes our physical presence is all the support our loved one needs. Keep in mind that grieving the loss is not something that can be "fixed."
It is also important to remember that grief is a lifelong process. The year of "firsts" is particularly difficult for many people: the first round of holidays without the loved one, the loved one's birthday, and the anniversary of their death. Remember that making it through those events does not mean grieving has ended. Your spouse will still have bad days in which the emotions of missing their loved one are brought to the surface. Grief does not follow a set timeline. It is okay to allow them to experience those emotions.
We probably spend more time with our spouse than we do any other person. It may seem as if we know them better than they know themselves. Know the healthy and unhealthy habits of grieving. Know that though it is normal to grieve, there are unhealthy ways to grieve, with warning signs like denial, depression, or hoarding. If your spouse expresses overwhelming grief or depression, encourage them to seek help in addition to Mountain Valley Hospice's bereavement services.
—Rachel Waddell, Guest Contributor
Mountain Valley Hospice & Palliative Care offers free grief support to the community at large. For more information, contact us today toll-free at 1-888-789-2922.
Tags: Grief Support