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How to Support Your Grieving Partner

If you are with someone long enough, one or both of you at some point are bound to experience a major life change or lose someone or something that’s very important.  

Examples include:

  • Job/Career: Your partner may derive a lot of their identity and self esteem from their career and job title as CEO of a major corporation.  Should they get laid off unexpectedly, they would experience a major loss and dramatic life change. Similarly, you may experience major losses and life changes as a result of being diagnosed with a chronic illness.
  • Death of a Parent/Family Member/Pet: One or both of you may lose someone close to you.  One of your parents may pass. Or you both may experience the loss of your beloved 12-year-old chocolate lab.

Whenever someone experiences something significant like this in their life, the natural response is GRIEF.  

Although grief is a part of life, it can be one of the most difficult and painful experiences anyone can go through.  Emotions can range from almost feeling nothing, or “numb” to extreme sadness.  Going through grief is usually a very lonely experience where most people feel completely disconnected from the rest of the world.  The grieving partner may tend to isolate as they try to really accept and make sense of what has happened. They will probably spend a lot of time internally processing their thoughts and managing their painful emotions. 

For different reasons.  You want to be present for your partner, but don’t know what they need or want. You want them to feel better and to just get back to their “normal” self.  You miss the way they “used” to b

Giving support to your grieving partner can feel just as painful and confusing for you as it is for them.

e, and would give anything for them to come bouncing down the stairs first thing in the morning, all smiles and playfully joking around before they head out the door for the day.  

You could also struggle because you want the person to be able to support you at those times when your life gets hard. But let’s be real. When a person is grieving, their capacity for giving to a relationship and to another person is far less than normal.  Your grieving partner is so consumed with trying to take in and make sense of what has just happened while also coping with the intense emotions they are experiencing.   

If your partner’s grieving process goes on long enough, you will also experience loneliness and disconnection.

In all honesty, it is not your partner’s fault that they are grieving. And it there truly is no time limit for how long someone can take to grieve.  Ir is understandable why you may get frustrated or even angry if their grieving seems to go on and on. But be cautious here. Ask yourself if you are truly frustrated and angry at your partner or if you are frustrated and angry at the situation.  The situation being that you miss your partner, your relationship and feeling connected to them.

This is one article in a series of articles on loss, heartache and how to cope when you feel devastated. For further reading, check out these:

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