Couples Grief Counseling
THE IMPACT OF LOSS
Couples who spend a lifetime together inevitably share extremely painful losses such as:
death of a parent, sibling, or child,
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 grief 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 we help couples with many difficult losses (death of a parent, personal injury, job loss, bankruptcy, retirement...), the loss of a child is usually the most painful and traumatic. Some couples who have experienced the death of their child may be experiencing a crisis in their marriage. In fact, the death of their child may feel like the beginning of the end of their marriage. We reject the widely-held belief that a bereaved couple is doomed to divorce. This view 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 and bonding.
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.
• Explore the stages of grief from a couples perspective.
• Find ways to discover shared meaning and purpose from the suffering.
Doing this work can feel impossible when it is hard to even get up in the morning, or make a decision about what to eat for breakfast. To start on this grief recovery journey, I will gently help you get in touch with how your grief and how it affects others. I will encourage you to see your tragedy 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, I would be honored to help you through your healing journey.
Open to Hope - List of groups that support grieving parents and families.