Your Grief Included:: Being the Spouse of Someone Who is Grieving

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While the holidays are a special time of year that are looked at with lots of love and joy and time spent with family. For some, the holidays are filled with grief and can be a huge reminder of what they have lost or do not have. For my family, unfortunately this is the case. My husband’s father died unexpectedly at the beginning of December 2019. We just celebrated his one year death anniversary recently. 

Your Grief Included:: Being the Spouse of Someone Who is Grieving

If you are a parent, especially of younger aged children. Finding time to allow yourself to grieve after a major loss is not easy. I don’t know if you remember these commercials from Vicks “Moms Don’t Take Sick Days” {which we can totally relate}, well moms also definitely do not get days to grieve, especially when it’s not your own parent who died. And this makes complete sense, as they say losing a parent or a child is the most difficult grief to navigate and heal. I know my grief does not compare. However, when my father-in-law died last year, I found myself googling things such as “how to grieve as the spouse”, “my husband’s father died, how do I grieve while supporting his grief” I must have searched for hours. I found one article. If your family is going through this and you are searching the internet as the spouse right now, there is hope, and I hope reading this can comfort you in some way. 

Ways Losing An In-Law May Impact the Spouse

  • They Had a Relationship with the Deceased 

No, he wasn’t my dad, but we did spend a lot of time together, especially after our daughter was born. I loved my father-in-law very much, respected him and he was a wonderful grandfather to our daughter. The grief in losing an individual in this is real just as any other relationship would be. 

  • Grieving Loss of Child/Children Having a Relationship with the Deceased

For me, I think this may be one of the most difficult parts. My daughter remembers him still. Or she remembers what we tell her about him and the time he spent with her. She will talk about missing him. Sadness rushes over me when my daughter does something new or something that I know he would have just loved and can picture him smiling or hear him laughing. That brings me to tears, every time. 

  • Grief of Watching their Spouse Grieve 

Okay maybe I take back the last one being the most difficult. I knew my husband would change. I’m a therapist, I know grief. Nothing prepared me for this. And because of this, I felt there was no space for me to grieve. A bit after my father-in-law died I wrote:: Please just go to bed so I can grieve. My heart feels like I am going to explode. I feel like I am not allowed to grieve when you are around and when you aren’t around I am being a parent or having to work. I am trying to figure out this new role and my new husband. How do I grieve when my grief is not as significant? How do I support you and not go crazy? Everything has changed in ways I didn’t expect and I am losing our little family. I don’t know how to grieve.” I wanted to share what I wrote because I think it captures it perfectly. 

  • Impact on the Family Unit 

I think this kinda goes with the one above it. But, I think it is so important that I wanted to separate it and emphasize how much it shakes everything up. Roles are moved around, emotions are all over the place, routines are thrown out the window. And the rest of the world does not stop for you. 

We made it through the death anniversary which can be one of the hardest. I am glad it’s over. It’s like you hold your breath for the day and once it’s over you can breathe again. My husband has found better coping skills, started seeing his own therapist, and really found some good information in this book that was recommended to me that I gave to him:: It’s OK That You’re Not OK (Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand) By: Megan Devine. It also made me realize how much I have been holding in the past year for everyone else.


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