How To Support Your Partner When They're Grieving A Loss

Vanessa ElleAug. 21, 2022 5:00 pm EST756

Grief hits everyone differently, and there's no right or wrong way to mourn a loss. When someone you love is going through grief, the first reaction is often to rush to their side and comfort them. But though most partners have the best intentions, some well-meaning acts can actually further upset a fragile person who's grieving. Doing or saying something insensitive can make your partner feel worse about the situation, or make them feel like they can't express themselves the way they need to. In some cases, grief and a partner's response to it can even cause a rift between the couple (via Hey Sigmund).

Often, grief can impact a person's ability to contribute to their relationship the way they normally would (via Good Therapy). So, the first qualities that a person trying to support their mourning partner should have are patience and understanding. The best way to support the person you love when they're going through a time like this is to offer your support without judgment, and there are a few effective ways to do that.

Ways to support your partner

To support your partner who's grieving a loss, the best thing you can do is be there. Whether they want to talk or sit in silence, cry in the dark or get out of the house, make yourself available to be there if and when they need you. U.K.-based relationship-advice organization Relate emphasizes the importance of being flexible with your partner and their needs. In whatever way they want to grieve, allow them to do it.

Just getting through daily life can feel impossible when you're grieving, so help your partner with concrete tasks throughout the day. Helping with household chores, errands, and kids can significantly ease their stress levels (via Fatherly). This can also include letting friends and extended family know about the loss, as your partner might not feel like facing people or talking about it. According to Psychology Today, you can also support your partner by showing your affection. This can be as simple as holding their hand, writing them a sympathy card, or buying them a bunch of flowers. If your partner feels like talking, ask them questions that give them a chance to express how they feel, and really listen to their responses. What's more, Psychology Today explains that this can help them put a name to their pain and start to heal from the loss.

Things to avoid when consoling your partner

The desire to take away your partner's pain is understandable, but grief isn't something you can fix; it's a natural part of life. Wedding Wire advises not trying to heal your partner but rather witnessing their grief and being there to support them through it. Don't expect them to feel better within a certain timeframe or guilt them for grieving in their own time. According to TIME Magazine, it can also make the situation worse if you push your faith on your partner. While your faith might bring you comfort, that's not necessarily the case for your partner. Hearing about heaven, reincarnation, angels, and similar topics might actually be overwhelming and antagonizing to them, even if those concepts make you feel better. The outlet also stresses not diminishing their pain. In other words, don't point out that the loss could have been worse. Their pain is valid regardless of the details.

Ultimately, showing affection, talking to your partner, and helping them with tasks can be counterproductive if your partner simply wants to be alone (via HelpGuide). If they need alone time, don't force your presence on them. It's natural to want to be near your partner or talk to them when they're grieving, but when they need to process the situation on their own, this can be stifling. Listen to them as they express what they want and need during this difficult time, and be there to provide it — even if that means giving them space.