Valdosta Scene June 2022 | Page 48

column by MARK WEBB

How to support your spouse when losing a parent

Mark Webb is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice at Oakwood Counseling Center in Valdosta . He is the author of “ How To Be A Great Partner ” and “ How To Argueproof Your Relationship .” Read more of his articles at www . TheRelationshipSpecialist . com .

1Don ’ t Try To Fix The Situation . Your spouse ’ s loss cannot be fixed , repaired or solved . The pain itself cannot be made better . Do not say anything that tries to fix the unfixable .

2Be Willing To Be Uncomfortable . You will most likely witness some of the worse emotional pain you have ever seen . Be prepared for this because supporting a spouse who is grieving can be quite hard . You most likely will be faced with situations in which you don ’ t know what to do or to say . Nothing will seem to make your spouse feel better .

3Don ’ t Tell Them What They Could Be Doing Differently . Grief is a very personal experience and belongs entirely to the person experiencing it . You may believe you would do things differently if this had happened to you but the grief belongs to your spouse so follow their lead . Your wellintended advice could quickly alienate you from your spouse .

4Don ’ t Say Things Like … “ I know how you feel .” “ They are in a better place .” “ Things will get better .” Instead , say things like “ I know this hurts .” “ I love you .” “ I ’ m here .”

5Don ’ t Take Things Personally . Your feelings will most likely be hurt . You may feel ignored and unappreciated . Don ’ t take it personally and don ’ t make this be about you . Your spouse most likely won ’ t be able to be the partner you are used to , so you may have to lean on others for your own support while supporting your spouse who is grieving .

6Do Not Hold Your Spouse To A Timeline Of Where You Think They Should Be in Their Grief . Grief does not come in nice neat stages . They may be grieving intensely one day and barely get out of bed and the next day they may be functioning quite well . Be patient , attuned and attentive to where your spouse is and try to meet them there .

7Make Sure They Eat . It may be weeks or months before your spouse feels up to cooking so make sure they get something to eat . Keep the refrigerator stocked and full of simple to prepare items .

8Be Patient . Be Very Patient . Your spouse may neglect their personal hygiene routines and may not show any interest in maintaining the home or yard . As they mourn their loss , these things may not be as important to them . It may take some time for things to resume to normal . You can suggest they attend to these things but don ’ t get aggravated with them .

9They May Not Want To Be Alone . You can be present without saying anything . Just being out on those sad days without saying much can be extremely supportive .

Their Daily Tasks . You can


lessen the burden by staying on top of recurring tasks or chores . Things like walking the dog , refilling prescriptions , bringing in the mail , picking up with paying the bills and mowing the lawn .
Them With The Hard Tasks . Things


like casket shopping , buying an urn , mortuary visits , the packing of clothes and cleaning of rooms . Your spouse may not be in the right frame of mind to make funeral / cremation or burial decisions , nor meet with estate lawyers , CPAs and other professionals in order to wrap up their parent ’ s affairs .
If authorized to do so , consider taking over these conversations and making these decisions . You may need to obtain your spouse ’ s permission in writing or take them with you on these
48 Valdosta Scene | June 2022