Sadly, there's no perfect way to help a partner through the grieving process. Losing friends and family is a harsh reality of life, and no matter how much support you offer someone, it can still be immensely difficult for them to cope. However, if your partner is mourning the loss of a loved one, there are some things you can do to help them get through this painful time. According to licensed clinical social worker Melanie Shapiro, it's important to understand that everyone deals with loss differently, so knowing what to expect can be tricky.
“The grief process can look different to different people,” Shapiro previously told Elite Daily. “It’s natural to want to help someone you love when they are in pain, and not knowing how can leave you feeling helpless.” During the early stages of grief, accepting that there's nothing you can do to fully take your partner's pain away is key. Once you've acknowledged that you are unable to "fix" the situation, there are plenty of small things you can do to make your partner's daily routine a little easier. Here are some effective ways to support your SO while they're coming to terms with the death of a friend or family member.
Ask How You Can Best Support Them
Sometimes, simply asking someone what they need from you is the best place to start. If your SO is too overwhelmed to formulate a coherent response, Shapiro recommended suggesting ways you could help and seeing how they respond.
Let Them Express Their Emotions
The emotions that arise during a period of mourning can be extremely complex. Needless to say, your partner will have some very emotional days ahead of them. If they need to cry, just being there to hold their hand can make all the difference.
Take Care Of The Little Things
In the beginning, just getting out of bed may take all the energy your partner can muster. Helping them out with practical things such as grocery shopping, cooking, or cleaning will allow them to focus on healing. This is a great time to cook their favorite meal, even if they don't eat it.
“Offering something you know they like — without any pressure or expectations — is a gentle way to show your partner support during this kind of trauma,” said Shapiro. “You might say, ‘I thought I would make your favorite meal — I know you haven’t had much of an appetite lately, but it is here if you want it.’”
Ask If They Want to Talk About It
Make it clear that you're there for them any time they want to talk, but don't pressure them to open up before they're ready. Once they start talking, avoid using cliché words of comfort. Telling them, "It's going to be OK," or, "Everything happens for a reason," isn't always helpful. The best thing you can do is listen.
No matter how bad your SO is feeling right now, rest assured that things will improve eventually. With the right tools, your partner can develop healthy and sustainable coping mechanisms. Even though not being able to make them feel better can be frustrating, practicing patience is key.
Although there is no "right" amount of time to grieve, if your partner is unable to establish a routine, experiences prolonged depression, is unable to fully accept the loss, blames themselves, or could be considering self-harm, it's time for them to speak with a professional. Even if they're making progress, grief counseling is a valuable tool for anyone who has experienced a significant loss in their life.
Although the road ahead might be tough, try not to get discouraged. Being there for your SO through their darkest days is a necessary part of every strong relationship. All you can do is try your best to take some pressure off them during this difficult time. They'll appreciate it more than you know.