How to Help a Grieving Spouse
There are few worse feelings than watching the person you love most go through difficult times, knowing that there is nothing that you can do to take away his or her pain. While only time and faith will help your spouse to heal, there are some steps that you can take to help with the process. Here are some tips on how to help a grieving spouse.
Be a Good Listener
Regardless of the source of your spouse’s grief…the loss of a loved one, job loss, etc…it’s important that they have a sounding board. Expressing emotions during difficult times will aid in the healing process. As your spouse needs to talk be there to listen. As challenging as it may be, don’t try to fix it…just listen.
Don’t Make it about You
Grief often feels isolating and individual. When one is grieving, it can feel as if no other person has ever experienced the same kind of pain. Though your instinct may be to try to relate to your spouse and to bring up a time that you experienced a similar situation, avoiding making comparisons will validate your spouse’s feelings and show them that you recognize the pain that he/she is in and are there to help them through it.
Give the Gift of Time
There is no timeline that says that grief should last a month, six months or a year. Each person’s experience is different, based upon the situation and the emotions that are a part of it. Be patient with your spouse and know that the grieving process may be a long road, but that by being there to support them through it, you will overcome this difficult time together. What better way to show your spouse you love them then by giving them your time?
Take Cues from Your Spouse
Over time things will get easier and you’ll notice your spouse beginning to act more like him/herself. Take that as a cue to gently suggest returning to familiar routines. Recommend that you go out (or stay in) for dinner and a light-hearted movie, or invite friends to get together. Surrounding your spouse with love and familiar activities will help them to remember that, despite challenges and tough times that we may experience, life can and will still go on. After all, your spouse is your best friend, so honoring them in this way will really help them as they heal.
Honor the Loss
Once the sense of loss has subsided, recognize that the wounds your spouse feels are still there, though they may not be as painful. Finding ways to honor a loved one (who may have passed), or support an influential organization may continue to help your spouse recover from his/her grief. Some ideas are framing a picture of a favorite memory with a friend or family member to keep visible or donating to a cause related to the grief. While honoring the loss won’t make it disappear, it will help your spouse to see that you continue to be there to support them in their journey.
Look for Additional Support
Depending on the nature of the loss, your spouse may benefit from additional resources and support groups. If you see dramatic changes in habits or moods, it may be a good idea to contact a local medical center to look into opportunities available to those who are grief-stricken. Through the power of your relationship and your faith can (and will!) move mountains, sometimes looking toward those who have been trained to support the grieving is another good way to go.
As your spouse endures the pain of loss, being a constant support for him/her will help him to know that, regardless of what life throws your way, you are with him for the journey.
Do you have other thoughts on how to help a grieving spouse? Please share your ideas.