Couples Grief Counseling
THE IMPACT OF LOSS
Couples who spend a lifetime together inevitably share extremely painful losses such as death of a parent or child, personal injury, job loss, bankrupcy, and retirement. Each person grieves in his or her own unique way. It is not uncommon, however, for one partner to evaluate the other partner’s grieving process based on his or her own style of grieving. He wants her to behave just like he does, and vice versa. If she cries, she thinks he should cry. If he doesn’t want to talk he thinks she shouldn’t need to talk either.
Behind this pressure to conform is the subtle assumption that one partner’s grief will be validated by the behavior of the other partner. In truth, however, how one will most naturally respond to grief, as a man or as a woman, is conditioned by other factors: one’s individual personality, one’s previous experiences, the cultural role one has inherited from parents, and the unique relationship one has had with the one who died.
GRIEF AND EXHAUSTION
Dealing with the grief factor in a relationship is like driving a car with only one cylinder working. Because grief is both physically and emotionally exhausting some people admit they just don’t have the energy to care enough to make their marriage work. That doesn’t mean the love is gone, only the energy. But know this as grieving partners: Your marriage not only can survive but thrive if both of you are willing to make your relationship a priority during this difficult time.
A SPECIAL WORD ABOUT LOSS OF A CHILD
Although I help couples with many difficult losses (death of a parent, personal injury, job loss, bankrupcy, retirement...), the loss of a child is usually the most painful and traumatic (so I will use that as an example here). Most couples who have experienced the death of their child have also experienced a crisis in their marriage. For some, this untimely difficulty has become a rich opportunity for growth bringing the two closer together. But for others, the death of their child has been the beginning of the end of their marriage. A widely-held belief that a bereaved couple is doomed to divorce is overly pessimistic and needs to be challenged. A more realistic approach is one that acknowledges the danger signs but also recognizes the enormous opportunities for growth.
COUPLES GRIEF COUNSELING
As a grief counselor for couples, I help you:
- Resist the temptation to inflict on to your partner the hurt that you are feeling.
• Expand your support network so your partner is not your sole source of emotional support.
• Teach you ways to constructively communicate the depth of the pain.
• Find ways to discover shared meaning and purpose from the suffering.
These steps can be difficult when it is hard to even get up in the morning, or make a decision about what to eat for breakfast. To do what you need to do in a relationship requires the desire to be in touch with how your own grief affects others. It will also help if you have the willingness to see this experience in your life as an opportunity to learn something new about how your partner experiences life in the sad times as well as the good times. No matter what the source for your loss and grief is, I would be honored to help you through your healing journey.