Learning how to grieve as a couple has been a process. Ten years ago, we stumbled through intense grief together for the first time when Mel’s Dad died. Together we learned to navigate the memories, tears, and the occasional meltdown.
When Mel’s Dad passed, it was a tough time. While I was sad to lose my father-in-law, we weren’t especially close and my grief was nowhere near as intense as Mel’s. Seeing my wife frequently break down into uncontrollable tears was so difficult. There was very little I could do to help, and trying to console her surely didn’t make everything better. I realized Mel needed to grieve in her own way. All I could do was be there for her when she needed me: to listen, give a hug, buy groceries, make meals, etc. Mel was really hurting and I was ready to carry the load for the two of us. It was painful to see my usually bright, vibrant wife in such a dark, dismal place.
Dad had died the week before Christmas, so I (Mel) was struggling with celebrating the holiday, especially the logistics of cooking a big dinner. I was so grateful when Mark offered to order in our Christmas feast.
Mark and I laughed and cried as we reminisced about Dad. One day, the pain was at its peak, and I just wanted to withdraw from the whole world. Mark asked me to share what was going on inside me, but I couldn’t articulate anything well.
I felt frustrated but I could tell Mel was overwhelmed. Instead of lashing out, I decided to focus on taking care of her. So, I drew her a nice, hot bath and took the kids grocery shopping so she could have some peace.
Mark’s gentle actions gave me time and space to process Dad’s death without the pressures of everyday life. Over time, the fog lifted, and we were able to face the world with the smile again.
Since then, when we’ve lost loved ones, we’ve stuck close together, supporting each other through the pain. Married life provides a built-in support system and when we tap into it, life (and death) can become even more beautiful. Life will always have loss, so we encourage you to lean on each other, and to love each other through it.