Grief is a difficult process that impacts every area of your life, including your marriage. The grieving process is important, as it is part of the healing process. If people don’t grieve, they don’t work through their feelings of loss. It is important to keep a careful watch for how the grieving process is impacting your marriage as it can contribute to increased conflict and emotional distance.
Whether you have experienced a miscarriage, the loss of a parent, or the loss of a friend, you’ll experience grief and loss. There are also other kinds of grief, such as learning about a parents’ terminal illness or experiencing your own loss of functioning as you age. No matter what kind of loss you have suffered, you’ll likely experience a wide variety of emotions.
Grief is very personal and men and women tend to grieve differently. It is important to recognize your partner’s grief may be quite different from yours. Respecting your partner’s grieving process can help you to feel more connected at a time when you are likely to feel more isolated. Grief tends to cause feelings of loneliness, isolation, guilt, anxiety, and anguish. Some couples are able to become closer through this process, but many couples find that their relationship becomes distant and strained.
The Timeline For Grief
It’s also important to remember that there isn’t a timeline for grief. Sometimes people seem to grieve for a short period of time while others grieve for years. Allow your partner whatever time is necessary to grieve. Be patient and supportive throughout the grieving process and don’t expect your partner to be “done” grieving.
Be prepared to feel like you are on a roller coaster at times. You may have good moments and very difficult moments and your emotions might change quickly. When you’re having a good day, there may be a song on the radio that changes your feelings suddenly. Be supportive of your partner’s mood swings and recognize your own changing feelings. Don’t try to be strong all the time and don’t pressure your partner into having “strength.” It’s okay to cry and cry together.
Work Through Your Grief Together
Keep communicating about your feelings. Talk about your loved one and discuss your grief process. Consider setting some time aside each day to talk about your loss and your feelings. Spend some time problem solving as well. You might find that during your grief process you have less energy to get things done around the house or to keep up with your usual activities. Discuss how to get help from family and friends during this process when necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask others for help and don’t be shy about taking people up on their offers when they ask if there is anything they can do to help.
Spend time together and don’t be afraid to have fun. Often, people feel guilty if they find themselves laughing or smiling and they don’t want to participate in fun activities. However, it is most important to do things when you are feeling the worst. It can give you a brief break from your grief to do an activity together and it can help you stay connected.
Grief can decrease a person’s desire to be sexually active. Talk to your partner about your feelings and how to remain intimate despite your grief. Don’t just ignore sexual problems. Talk openly about what you are experiencing. Be patient with your partner’s needs as well.
Outside Support Options For Grieving Couples
Consider joining a support group together. There are often specific support groups for people who have lost a parent, a child, or a sibling and there are often general grief groups as well. Talking with other families who have had similar experiences can be helpful to you as they will understand your grieving process when others might not. Contact your local hospital to learn more about grief resources available in your community.
Consider counseling if you find that your grief is getting worse over time or if your marriage seems to be struggling. After suffering a loss, you don’t want to experience the loss of your marriage as well. It is very important to talk to someone if you find that you aren’t able to work through your grief successfully. Be aware that grief can lead to depression over time and sometimes people develop anxiety. It may be important to receive counseling or consider medication.
Marriage counseling during a time of mourning can help ensure that you work together to support one another instead of growing apart. Sadly, many couples become distanced as they suffer with their grief. Take steps to try and keep your marriage healthy during a difficult time.