How to Help a Grieving Spouse

Опубликовал Admin
7-01-2021, 19:00
It’s never easy seeing your spouse in pain, and watching your spouse grieve can make you feel helpless and frightened. You may want to help your spouse, but you are unsure how to be there for him or her. Learn how to help your grieving spouse so you can provide him or her with the support he or she needs.

Supporting Your Spouse When He or She Is Grieving

  1. Listen to your spouse. Part of the grieving process is being able to talk about the deceased person and work through memories and feelings about that person. Be there for your spouse by listening to him or her talk about the deceased person. Don’t discourage your spouse not to talk about the person. Your spouse should focus on the good memories and the things he or she loved about the person.
    • If your spouse starts talking about things he or she didn’t like about the person or bad memories, that’s okay, too. Let your spouse get it all out.
    • Tell your spouse, “I am here to listen if you want to talk about the person.”
    • Share your own memories about the person. Talking about the person with your spouse can help him or her remember the good things or work towards acceptance.
  2. Encourage your spouse to let out emotion. Going through the different emotions associated with grief is important. Never tell your spouse not to cry or show other emotions. Instead, encourage your spouse to let out his or her emotion. Your spouse may feel guilt or despair. Cry with your spouse if you can. If not, be there and let your spouse cry while you love and support him or her.
    • Some people may get angry during the grief process. That is a normal part of grief. Don’t tell your spouse to calm down or stop being angry. Let him or her work through that emotion. Let your spouse yell if he or she needs to.
    • Fear of death or obsession about death is another common emotional response during the grieving process.
    • You may tell your spouse, “What you are feeling is valid. Let it out. I am here no matter what emotion you are feeling.”
  3. Allow your spouse to be silent. It’s okay if your spouse doesn’t want to talk. Sometimes, your spouse may just want to sit with you and not talk. You can still be there for your spouse even if he or she doesn’t want to talk. Support doesn’t always come in the form of words.
    • You can sit with your spouse. Just having you near will provide comfort.
    • Touch your spouse. Hold his or her hand, squeeze his or her arm, or sit with your arm around his or her shoulders.
    • Offer hugs and offer to just hold your spouse for as long as he or she needs you to.
  4. Let your spouse grieve for as long as needed. Everyone grieves on a different schedule. Some people may ignore what has occurred and go on about their normal life for a while after the death, and then one day weeks or months later they start to grieve. Other people may grieve immediately. Most people take between one and half to two years to fully grieve.
    • Your spouse may take longer to grieve. That is okay. Don’t encourage your spouse to get over it or stop grieving. Don’t add extra stress on your spouse by making him or her feel like he or she has been grieving for too long. Let your spouse grieve at his or her own pace.

Knowing How To Act With Your Grieving Spouse

  1. Provide love and support. The most important thing you can do for your spouse when he or she is grieving is to be there with love and support. Even if you are unsure how to be there for your spouse or you are scared you will upset him or her even more, you can show love and understanding.
    • It’s natural to be afraid that you might upset your spouse. That’s okay. Get upset if you are upset. It may be comforting to your spouse to know that you are grieving or upset, too.
    • Tell your spouse, “I love you. Let me know what I can do to help you. I am here for you.”
  2. Avoid trite cliches. When people are unsure about what to say to someone, they sometimes fall back to cliches and tired phrases. When someone is grieving, people often say, “She’s in a better place” or “He is at peace.” You might feel like saying, “He had a long, great life” or something similar. Although these phrases may be true, refrain from telling them to your spouse.
    • You should also avoid reminding your spouse of what he or she should be thankful for.
    • Don’t tell your spouse to move on and stop thinking about the death. That may make your spouse feel like he or she is forgetting the person.
    • You may feel like these phrases are comforting, but they may feel empty to your spouse and cause him or her irritation.
    • Instead, say things like, “I’m sorry you have lost someone who means something to you.”
  3. Acknowledge the death. Don’t ignore the death or avoid talking about it around your spouse. Denial won’t help your spouse with the grieving process. Stepping around the issues on eggshells and ignoring it will only make your spouse feel isolated.
    • Instead, acknowledge the death. For example, you can say, “I know that your loved one has died” or “I’m sorry that your loved one has died. That’s a difficult thing to deal with.”
    • By mentioning the death to your spouse, you let your spouse know that he or she can talk to your about the death. Use words like “death” or “died.” Softer terms like “gone” or “not here any longer” is another evasion. Don’t be harsh or cruel, but be honest and direct.
  4. Do everyday tasks for your spouse. Your spouse may go through a time where he or she cannot do his or her normal tasks due to grief or depression. Your spouse may not ask for help, may say he or she doesn’t need help if asked, or may not realize he or she needs help. You can offer help without your spouse having to ask.
    • For example, you can offer to do the grocery shopping, make dinner, mow the lawn, or pay the bills if your spouse usually does these things.
  5. Spend time with your spouse. Talking about the grief is not the only way you can help your spouse. You can also help your spouse by doing normal or recreational activities with him or her. Take your spouse grocery shopping with you or have him or her help you make dinner. Encourage your spouse to help you with light house cleaning tasks, making sure not to expect more than he or she can do.
    • You can also take your spouse for a walk or on a picnic.
    • Take your spouse out for a nice dinner and a movie.
    • Do a fun activity at home, like playing a game or renting a movie.

Knowing When Your Spouse Needs Help

  1. Realize that everyone grieves differently. Everyone has felt grief due to the loss of a loved one before, so you are able to understand what your spouse is going through. However, your spouse may deal with the grieving process differently than you did or in ways you don’t understand. That’s okay and perfectly normal.
    • Avoid using phrases like, “I know what this feels like.”
    • Don’t get too worried or freaked out if your spouse goes through the grieving process in a different and unfamiliar way than you. There is not one right way to grieve.
    • If your spouse is a different gender, then remember that people of different genders may react to grief and loss in extremely different ways. If your spouse is the same gender, you still may find that your spouse approaches it differently.
    • Some people may be vocal and outwardly emotional, others may keep it inside. Help your spouse no matter how he or she approaches the grieving process.
  2. Recognize the five stages of grief. There are five common stages of grief that people go through. Not everyone goes through these stages in the same order, and they may not spend long on each stage or may skip it entirely. Every grieving process is slightly different, but the general guidelines for the five stages are:
    • Denial
    • Anger
    • Bargaining
    • Depression
    • Acceptance
  3. Offer to go to a grief support group with your spouse. You can suggest that your spouse go to a grief support group or offer to join him or her at a support group. Grief support groups can help your spouse get through really tough times by connecting with others going through similar situations. You and your spouse may learn some grief management techniques during your meetings.
    • Don’t force your spouse to go to grief counseling. Not everyone needs it or is open to going. If your spouse isn’t open to the idea, leave it.
    • You should only urge your spouse to get help if he or she is exhibiting the signs of serious depression or has suicidal thoughts. If your spouse is suicidal, you should contact a suicide hotline for help.
  4. Watch for warning signs. The grieving process entails many different emotions. Your spouse will not only feel angry, guilty, scared, or upset, but he or she may be depressed, confused, disconnected, or overly anxious. This should start to dissipate as the person goes through the grieving process. However, a person who has experience grief may end up with a serious grief management disorder, like complicated grief, or clinical depression. If you think your spouse has complicated grief or clinical depression, encourage him or her to get help. The signs of clinical depression include:
    • Difficulty getting through daily tasks
    • Obsession with death or excessive talk of death and suicide, especially an obsession with the loved one's death
    • Substance abuse
    • Lack of enjoyment of life or ability to think of positive times with the dead loved one
    • Strong feelings of anger, guilt, or bitterness
    • Withdrawing from everyone and life in general or feelings of numbness
    • Hopelessness
    • Obsessive focus on reminders of the loved one or obsessive avoidance of reminders of the loved one
    • Inability to trust others
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