Watching a partner deal with loss can be incredibly difficult, particularly if you aren’t sharing in their grief. If your partner has lost a relative, friend or colleague that you weren’t close with, it can be difficult to witness their grief. Even if the loss is someone that you know, you might not be feeling the same depths of loss as your partner.
Grief affects everyone in different ways, so it’s important to be able to spot the signs of healthy and unhealthy responses. It can take a long time to come to terms with a loss, but as their partner, you need to know when it’s time to intervene and encourage them to get professional help. Here are some simple steps you can take to help your partner cope with loss.
Let them grieve
You cannot dictate how long the grieving process will take, or when it’s time to get back to normal. Grief affects us all in different ways. Some people don’t deal with grief straight away and it manifests in uncomfortable ways further down the road.
Some of us sink into the deepest depths of grief and seem like we may never surface. And some people are determined to put on a brave face and continue as normal. However your partner chooses to grieve, you need to be able to support them, no matter what.
Give them room
Grief can make individuals want to retreat. Or can make them want to be surrounded by people so they don’t have to confront their feelings. A large part of supporting a grieving partner is allowing them to tackle their grief on their own terms. Their grief might change day-to-day, but your response should always be consistently supportive.
Be okay with silence
Perhaps the hardest part of grief is the impact it can have on personal relationships. Your partner might be more reclusive than usual, or they might not want to talk about their day as much. Accepting that you might be living with someone who doesn’t always want to talk about how they are feeling can make the process of helping them to cope with their grief much easier.
Offer practical help
You don’t have to become a grief counsellor overnight, but it can help to read up on some popular ways to help a person going through a difficult time. Simple things like getting daily exercise and eating healthy foods can help an individual to manage their grief more effectively.
You might also want to help them to process their grief in a healthy way, such as creating a memorial to their loved one. Helping them to design a memorial ring that contains ashes of their loved one is an excellent way to turn grief into something productive and healthy.
Let them be repetitive
Grieving can bring up a lot of unpleasant emotions, including guilt and regret. This can lead individuals to want to dwell on certain topics. Be prepared to hear the same complaints and worries over and over again, because your partner might be trying to process some unpleasant emotions.
Allowing your partner to be repetitive without getting frustrated with them will help them to move forward through their grief. Remember, they aren’t necessarily asking for answers, sometimes they just want to be able to process their thoughts out loud. Be supportive as they process their emotions, even if it might feel like you are running over the same ground time and time again. You can always encourage them to speak to a therapist if you don’t feel you can offer the support they need.
Be their spokesperson
Dealing with grief can make it difficult to manage everyday things. They might need someone to communicate their wishes and intentions to friends and extended family. Offering to be their spokesperson and keeping in touch with people on their behalf is often the simplest way to be a supportive partner.
This can be particularly helpful when planning a funeral or memorial service. The smaller details of an event can be overwhelming when you are trapped in the deepest depths of grief, so having someone there to manage things will be a huge source of relief. They might not know how much you are helping, but this is often the best way to help a person.