To the wife of a grieving husband,
I am both happy and sad you’ve stumbled upon this piece. Happy because I hope you find solace in the shared comradery of community, but sad that you’re walking through grief. I am sorry for your husband and that he has lost something precious and dear—a life he loved. I’m sorry you’re navigating one of the most difficult seasons of marriage. I’m sorry that you’re watching your spouse vacillate with uncharted emotions. But I’m so glad he has you.
Be gentle with him and be gentle with yourself. Grief will come in waves, some stronger than others. There will be expected and unexpected triggers.
Invite Grief To Your Table
This is a weird one, right? How do you invite grief to your table? The reality is your husband lost someone who mattered to him. As a result, you and your children are affected. When you invite grief to your table, you acknowledge it exists and find ways to live with grief. Grief will evolve with time—it will not go away. Just as your loved one will never return, grief will not be cured. You’ll find new ways to cope, but you’ll also stumble upon new and challenging milestones. Avoiding these feelings will isolate your husband. So invite it to your table. Call it out.
It’s OK to prompt your spouse about special dates. It will not trigger the grief. He is well-aware it’s his first Mother’s Day without his mom or his first Christmas without his best friend. Acknowledging these milestones helps reduce his feelings of isolation. Those impacted by grief often worry about grieving too long or being “Debbie downers.” When you acknowledge the memories, you allow the grieved to be their authentic selves—the person who’s navigating loss.
Remember Your Grief Matters, Too
Do not diminish your own grief. You may feel it pales in comparison to what your husband lost, but your feelings and grief are of equal value. You’re allowed to be grieved. You’re allowed to grieve the person lost. You’re allowed to grieve the way it’s changed your lives. You’re allowed to grieve on behalf of your husband.
Find Ways To Honor Your Loved One
In our house, we have a wind chime that was gifted shortly after my MIL’s passing. Whenever it whistles, I tell my son Grandma is singing to him. While she’s not here, we are making memories with her memory.
Be open to suggesting support whether through support groups or counseling. There is no shame in connecting with professionals to process a life-changing event. In fact, it’s encouraged. If he is wary, ask about things that would help him be less hesitant. Does he want you to attend the first session? Does he prefer a particular gender of counselor?
The saying goes that time heals. I don’t know that time heals, but it certainly teaches us how to do hard things over and over again. There will be lots of hard days. There will be lots of good days. There will be stretches of hard days and stretches of good days.
There’s no right way to grieve. But many navigating loss feel unseen. The weeks following a funeral are filled with flowers and condolences. But it’s often the ordinary days that are challenging. Give your loved one the space to grieve. Acknowledge it. Invite it in. And for goodness’ sake, see a therapist when warranted.
Originally published on the author’s Facebook page