Dealing with death is never easy and helping your spouse through this tough time in his or her life can make it even harder. You may have never experienced death before and trying to figure out how to comfort your partner may leave you drawing a blank. Here’s what you can do to help your spouse through this period of mourning.
1. Give your spouse love
If your partner’s loved one just passed away, the best thing you can do is love them by being there. In order to do that, be silent and listen to them talk about the individual, even if it is repetitive. Be an active listener and focus your attention on them by keeping eye contact. Listening is a gift in itself for people in mourning and greatly appreciated. If they cry, be that shoulder for your partner to cry on.
Your spouse may not show sadness right away. If this is the case, give her a little bit of space until they are ready to come to you for support. You can still show them love by allowing her to process from a distance.
2. Let them be angry
It is best to let your spouse process how he or she naturally processes emotions. Anger is a common reaction to grief and if getting upset or angry over the loss of a loved one is how they react, let them react that way. Telling your spouse that they should not be angry or that they should be behaving a certain way, i.e. calmer, less upset, etc., is the wrong angle to approach the situation. This stage will hopefully only last for a short period of time.
3. Watch what you say
If you are in the position of knowing how your spouse may feel, it may be safe to say “I know how you feel” but everyone grieves differently. You may not know exactly how they are feeling. Saying the statements like “Everything happens for a reason.” or “(Insert loved one’s name) lived a good life.” is not comforting. Be genuine with your words. If you don’t know what to say to them, simply state that.
4. Continue to put in effort
Grieving is different for everyone. It may take more than a couple weeks for them to process and through this time, you want to continually be there for them. More often than not, your spouse might seem fine after they receive the news. As the days pass, it might begin to set in that they will never see their loved one again. The grieving process does not follow a deadline and you should continually offer your support.
5. Revisit pleasant memories
Your spouse’s first instinct in this difficult time will be focused on how bad this is. This is natural for everyone and you should let your partner process any emotions. However, focusing too long on sadness can be unhealthy. Encourage your partner to share their memories of that person, and how the individual shaped or impacted their lives. Revisiting old pictures and videos can be a healthy activity as it helps with the healing process. Reminiscing pleasant memories can be therapeutic as it makes them think of the good times and feels grateful for the time they spent together.
Through this time of grieving, your partner is not going to be able to do everything they used to. Take on some of the chores he or she would usually do. Lightening the load and taking a few things off their plate will help give them the extra time to think and process on their own. Unless he or she finds a specific chore enjoyable or therapeutic, try to do as much for them as you can.
Help your partner feel the maximum amount of comfort and support from you by following these 6 tips as they mourn. Being the pillar of strength for your spouse will help him or her cope with the loss and aid the overall processing through this tough time.