When a couple experiences grief, it can make them stronger as an individual and as a couple. Much of the time, however, grief creates a divide between two people if they are not careful about working on their relationship throughout the grieving process. Grief results from losses, such as loss of a job, all the children moving out of the home, and most often from a death in the family.
When both partners experience grief it can be very difficult. The loss of a parent or a sibling creates much sorrow. The loss of a child can cause a lot of despair. Sometimes it can be helpful to work through grief while having a partner who is experiencing similar issues because they can help each other. Ultimately though, grief is an individual experience. Each person must move through the stages of grief as an individual. This can create some conflict when one person moves faster than the other. The partner who feels like they have moved along in the process faster might be frustrated at the other person’s lack of progress. The other person might feel exasperated that their partner has moved too quickly and didn’t grieve long enough.
Traumatic or sudden losses make grief especially more complicated. While the death of an elderly parent tends to be more expected. People who witness an elderly parent’s slow decline have time to work through feelings of impending grief. When people lose a loved one due to a tragic accident or when a young person dies unexpectedly, people experience many more mixed emotions. Family members may have more difficulty dealing with feelings of anger and guilt in these instances. People may feel responsible or spend a lot of time wondering what they could have done to prevent their loss.
Couples with children might tend to focus more on caring for the well-being of their children while grieving. This may make it difficult to focus on their own grief. It might also make it more difficult to check in with their partner about their grief as well.
If you and your partner are grieving about a loss, consider seeking help. Therapy can assist people with talking about their feelings, processing their loss, and finding new meaning and hope. Support groups can also be helpful for couples. Specific support groups assist people who have lost a parent or a child. This can be therapeutic for couples to attend together to gain support from others and to help support each other.