How to Support your Partner who is Grieving
Tips for how to support your partner who is grieving from a Calgary Counsellor. This includes some recommendations for when to seek out grief counselling.
RELATIONSHIP TIPSGRIEF SUPPORT
Is your partner struggling with grief? Are you feeling at a loss for how to support them? In this article, we'll dive into how you can best support your partner on their grief journey, plus feel more connected while doing so.
Let's face it, society doesn't handle grief well; often trying to change it to avoid the uncomfortable emotions that encompasses it. For this reason, most of us don't learn how to support those who are grieving a loss, and we often don't even know how to support ourselves. But, the reality is, everyone experiences grief. At some point in your life, you will likely be supporting your significant other through their grief, as they will for you.
Grief is a journey that reshapes the soul, and being there for your significant other in times of sorrow is a profound act of love.
Here are some ways to offer comfort and support (and strengthen your relationship):
Listen and hold space for silence: our grief needs to be witnessed. Listen without trying to change it; without trying to make them "feel better," or problem solve. There is no problem solving grief and I guarantee telling them the ways in which they can look on the positive side will only invalidate their difficult emotions. Over time, this will impact emotional intimacy in the relationship and may even contribute to feelings of loneliness.
Offer practical support: grief can be overwhelming and simple tasks may become daunting. Whether it's cooking a meal, running errands, or taking care of daily responsibilities, the practical support that you provide your partner will likely feel like a relief to them.
Share in memories of their loved one (or ask them about their memories): memories are a great way of honouring our loved one who has passed and allow us to still feel close to them. They can also be a nice way to connect with our partners, either by sharing in memories or getting to know the loved one.
Respect, and try to understand, the grieving process: grief is complex and unique for each person; it involves a rollercoaster of emotions. Be patient, understanding, and avoid imposing your timeline on your partner's emotions. https://grief.com/ can be a great place to start when learning more about grief.
Encourage self-care (but don’t be pushy about it): grieving often takes a toll on physical and mental well-being. For this reason, encourage self-care and self-compassion. Maybe even try engaging in some of it with your partner. However, be cautious about being pushy regarding self-care and whether doing so may be you trying to problem solve their grief.
Attend memorial events together: offer to attend memorial services or gatherings with them. Your presence can be a source of comfort, providing a familiar anchor in a sea of emotions.
Check in often (and ask them how you can best support): regularly show your partner that you care by checking in with how they are doing. People have a tendency to fade away after the immediate impact of grief has passed. Your continued support shows that their feelings matter and that they're not navigating this journey alone. Help them seek out professional support, if needed.
*This is by no means an all-inclusive list of ways to support your partner who is grieving. If you're noticing your partner having more bad days than good; struggling finding relief from anxiety; having difficulty functioning at work, school or in everyday activities; expressing thoughts of ending their life; or engaging in unhealthy coping skills, it may be time to recommend professional support.
If you and your partner are both on a grieving journey, it can be difficult to know how to support each other, especially if your journeys are unique or you grieve differently. Couples/marriage counselling can be a helpful space for navigating this journey together in a way that keeps you connected, rather than drifting apart. If this is of interest to you, please feel free to reach out for a complimentary introductory call to see how I can support. I offer individual grief counselling and couples counselling in Calgary SW. There is always an option to do online therapy, in which I could provide services to those throughout Alberta.