We all experience grief at some point in our lives—it’s part of being alive and human, having emotions, and loving. At times, the husband and wife will both go through the same grief—losing a child or the lesser pain of losing a badly needed job or a loved home. Other times, one spouse will go through a personal grief not quite as deeply felt by the other. In both circumstances, they need each other.
If you are the spouse who is grieving, share what you need with your partner. Don’t expect him to just know what you’re going through. He sees things differently, and he deals with his grief differently. If you just need to be held, ask. If you need him to do something proactive, ask. Don’t believe that he should magically sense your needs, and then hold it against him when he doesn’t deliver.
If you are the supporting spouse, listen to your partner when she talks. Let her vent her sadness and frustrations. Don’t try to impose your own ways of dealing with tragedy upon her—chances are, she just needs a sounding board, someone who will let her share all her emotions, and then she will be all right.
If the two of you are going through grief together, do everything in your power to keep it from driving a wedge between you. Turn toward each other, and not away. Don’t have contests to figure out who is really grieving more, and if you feel that your spouse doesn’t care as deeply as you do about the situation, don’t accuse them of being unfeeling. Men do tend to internalize their feelings, while women tend to express them, but this isn’t necessarily true all the time. Each person, regardless of gender, processes their grief differently. They may not appear to be grieving to us, but deep down, they may be near the breaking point.
Husbands and wives, you can make all the difference in the healing of your spouse during this difficult time. Rely on the love you have for each other to see you through. Be patient. Be considerate. Be emotionally available. And above all, be united. You can weather this pain—together.