It's OK That You're Not OK.

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RESOURCES: Open to Hope - List of groups that support grieving parents and families.

Bob Neimeyer: How to Grieve as Couples

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Couples Grief Counseling


Couples who spend a lifetime together inevitably share extremely painful losses such as death of a parent or child, personal injury, job loss, bankruptcy, 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.



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.


Although I 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 (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.



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.


Change begins by taking the first step.
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Dr. Harry Motro is part of the Couples Recovery Center which provides specialized couples counseling and includes the following professionals:


If you are interested in joining our team, apply here.

If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free, 24-hour hotline at 1.800.273.8255.  If your issue is an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.  Dr. Motro does not offer crisis counseling or emergency services.


Dr. Harry Motro, Marriage Counselor, is an employee of Harry Motro, Psy.D., Marriage and Family Therapist, P.C., (a Professional Corporation), which does business as the Couples Recovery Center. Dr. Motro practices at 3880 South Bascom Drive, Suite 216, San Jose, CA,95124, is Licensed as a Marriage Family Therapist MFC 53452 and authorized to act as a Psychotherapist providing Psychotherapy. He specializes in Couples Counseling. In addition to dealing with couples and relationship issues, Dr. Motro is trained to treat anxiety, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, bi-polar, ADHD, Asperger's, sex difficulties, anger regulation issues, affair fallout, divorce recovery, self-esteem, addiction, co-dependency, trauma, abuse, eating disorders, and managing grief and loss. These issues often arise in couples counseling and will be dealt with as part of your therapy. If you search for counseling San Jose, marriage counselor San Jose, couples counselor San Jose, psychotherapy San Jose, psychotherapist San Jose, therapist San Jose, counselor San Jose, couples therapist San Jose, couples counselor San Jose, marriage therapy San Jose, life coach San Jose, career coach San Jose, executive coach San Jose, you can find Dr. Harry Motro's web site. In addition to serving San Jose, Harry serves clients in Campbell, Los Gatos, Saratoga, Willow Glen, Milpitas, Mountain View, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Scotts Valley, Felton, Sunnyvale, Morgan Hill, Fremont, Los Altos, and Gilroy, California. Dr. Motro also provides  Mountain Bike Therapy. The recommendations on this website do not constitute professional advice, substitute for professional treatment, or establish a therapeutic relationship.

Harry Motro, Psy.D., Marriage and Family Therapist, P.C.,,, 408 823 2822.

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