Grief is, and always will be, one of the most challenging feelings to navigate. No one grieves in exactly the same way and figuring out how to be there and help a grieving loved one can feel like trying to climb a wall. Some people may desire time alone to process their emotions, while others may fear being alone with their thoughts.
The best way for you to support your partner while they are grieving will depend on how your partner grieves. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to help your partner through this process, but there are some things you can keep in mind when trying to support your partner. Here we’ll explore some ways that you can support your partner while they grieve.
Recognize Your Partner’s Feelings (and Ways of Grieving)
People grieve in many different ways. Your partner may not be showing the same signs of grief that you do when you have lost someone close to you. You may not understand their feelings or actions. But you need to recognize that your partner is going through a tough time.
You need to recognize this and allow them to heal in their own time and in their own ways. All you can hope to do is provide the support they need to ensure that they are embracing healthy grieving mechanisms rather than unhealthy ones.
Listen, Don’t Advise
People love solving problems. Whether they are our problems or other people’s problems, we are hardwired to find solutions to the things that are causing us trouble. This can be an incredibly helpful behavior in many areas of life, but comforting a grieving loved one is not one of them.
Rather than trying to find solutions, “fix” the problem, or advise your loved one, simply provide an ear to listen and a shoulder to lean on. There are some things that we cannot fix from the outside. Grieving is a challenging process that many people deal with in unique ways. Sometimes, the best way for you to be there for your loved one is simply to let them relive memories and tell stories about their loved one. A good rule of thumb? Don’t offer advice unless you’re asked for it. More often than not, a good listener is all someone grieving is looking for.
Help Them Out Where You Can
Let’s be honest, we usually don’t know what we can do to help someone out in a time of grieving. Because of this, most of us will ask if we can “do anything” or offer an “I’m here if you need anything” to the grieving individual. Unfortunately, this is not as helpful as we think, and usually, the person grieving will be hesitant to reach out when offered these generalized options.
So, instead of leaving the method of help up to your grieving partner, offer to help out in more specific areas. Maybe offer to make meals, go grocery shopping, clean up the house, or perform other daily tasks that can get overwhelming to a grieving individual. If you’re looking to help your partner, offer concrete help where you can.
Watch Out for Warning Signs of Depression
Feeling overwhelmed, depressed, isolated, and confused are all common feelings for a grieving person to feel. But, if these feelings continue to get worse over time (or do not fade), a normal grieving process may have transformed into depression.
Keep an eye out for any of these signs and reach out to a professional if your partner displays any of these signs for longer than two months after the death.
- Difficulty performing daily tasks
- Fixation on death
- Excessive guilt or bitterness
- Inability to enjoy life or hobbies
- Talking about dying or suicide
- Withdrawing from others
- Feeling hopeless
Talk About Memories
As mentioned above, sometimes, the best way to go through the grieving process is simply to let your partner talk it out. Whether they want to talk about fond memories, painful memories of the last interactions with their loved one, or even their feelings and how they are doing, being there for them is the best thing you can do. You can’t erase the pain or sadness, but you can provide comfort by being there for them to talk to.
Sometimes verbal support is something that we take for granted. Hearing someone say that they are there for you or that your feelings are valid can be incredibly helpful for someone who is grieving. Offering verbal support to your loved one is a great way to remind them that you are there for them during this time and that you recognize how challenging it is.
There are times when you may feel like you are unable to get through to your partner or that they may not be recovering from their loss even after time has passed. In these cases, it may be best to contact a professional. Therapists are trained to help people overcome grief and heal from these experiences.
So, if you have a loved one who is not responding to your attempts to support them or does not seem to be recovering from their loss, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at Love Heal Grow to get in touch with one of our therapists.