Marriage means being there for your spouse no matter what, and it is only a matter of time before your relationship is hit with a tragedy. Whether your spouse is grieving the loss of a loved one or struggling to deal with the news of a major health problem, it is important to be there for them during their time of need. In fact, showing your spouse support during a time of tragedy is one of the greatest acts of love that you can show. When you can’t protect your spouse from a painful event, use these strategies to provide them with comfort as they work through the grieving process.
Give Them Space To Grieve
Everyone grieves in their own way, and what works for you may not be the route that your spouse takes. While it may seem strange that your partner wants to keep working through their grief, they may find it therapeutic to keep their mind occupied. Alternatively, they may just want to spend a full day crying. Either way, offer nonjudgmental support so that they can deal with the tragedy however they feel is appropriate.
Ask What They Need
Watching your spouse deal with a tragedy may bring out elements of their personality that you have never seen, and this makes it hard to know how to react. For instance, your normally affectionate spouse may suddenly tense up when you offer a hug because they feel like it is a gesture of pity. Try not to take these moments personally since they are just a temporary measure that your partner is using for self-protection. Instead, ask how they want you to help, and follow their lead.
Allow Them to Get Their Emotions Out
Tragedy generates many emotions that all come out in time. Guilt, anger, and even downright denial are all completely normal feelings for your spouse to experience, and getting them out is important for keeping them from interfering with moving forward. Whether your partner needs to burn off some pent up anger at the gym or write for hours in their journal, encourage them to find activities that provide an emotional release.
Avoid Offering Empty Words of Condolence
There are many trite sayings that come to mind when someone experiences a tragedy, such as saying that it is all going to be okay. However, throwing clichés at your partner simply because you don’t know what to say will make it seem like you don’t understand what they are going through. Instead, let them know that you are at a complete loss for words. Then, follow it up by reminding them that you are always there for support. This goes much further toward helping your partner than tossing a few lines out that they know are not true.
Handle The Practical Side of Things
During a time of loss, every day things sometimes go on the back burner. After all, who wants to go grocery shopping or clean the bathroom when they feel like their life is in shambles. Now is the time to step up and handle a few of the more practical matters so that your spouse can grieve. Make sure that your spouse has warm meals to eat even if they lack an appetite, and quietly handle some of their daily responsibilities until they are feeling up to taking them over again.
Watch For Signs of Difficulty Coping
Sometimes, the best thing that you can do for your spouse is help them do what they might not be able to do for themselves. For someone who is grieving, it is hard to tell when a painful loss has turned into a more serious issue, such as depression. Watch for signs that your partner is not coping well, such as severe grief that does not get better over a period of weeks. Then, arrange for them to talk to a counselor who can help them work through the stages of grief.
You would do anything to take your spouse’s pain away, but this time there is nothing you can do but show your support. Although the next few weeks to months will be challenging, sticking to your commitment and surrounding your spouse with love is the best way to help them learn how to cope with tragedy.