11 Tips for Helping a Grieving Spouse

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If someone your spouse loves, like a parent or close friend, dies, how can you help them? Here are some tips.

1. Remember how you felt if you were in a similar position but don’t expect necessarily that your spouse will react the same way you did in grief.

2. Show your love for your grieving spouse, even if you don’t know what to say or you’re frightened of getting upset or upsetting them more. Just be there for them. It doesn’t matter if you get upset. It might even help.

3. Let your spouse talk about their loved one. They need to be able to talk if they want to. But don’t force the issue. Let them remember the good times and good points about the person who has died, even if you may not agree with their view of the person.

4. Let your spouse cry and don’t tell them not to. Cry with them, if it’s appropriate. Tears are usually better out than keeping them locked up.

5. Let your spouse be angry. Anger is often a part of grief we need to work through.

6. Even if you believe it to be the case, Don’t trot out platitudes like ‘she had a good life. Or ‘She’s better off now. Even to say, ‘I know how you feel’ can be problematic. You might have some idea if you have experienced loss but it still won’t be the same since each person handles grief differently and so much depends on the relationship between your spouse and the deceased.

7. Don’t give up after a few weeks. Close relationships can take a long time to work through the grieving process. Sometimes the grieving spouse is operating on automatic pilot. But then as time goes on the reality of not ever seeing that loved one again hits home more sharply.

8. Provide practical help in the form of cooking special meals or just giving your spouse a special treat like an evening out.

9. Most of all, be available and ready to listen when and if your spouse wants to talk. Be aware some dates may have a great significance e.g. Father’s day, the person’s birthday etc.

10. Don’t criticize the person who has died.

11. Pray for them and with them if this is appropriate. It can often help comfort your spouse.

Please visit these related blogs

Dealing With the Death of Parents

Dealing with Death

5 Stages of Grief

Gender Differences in Marriage

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