How to Help Your Partner Through a Loss

by: Tia Sorensen

This past week I lost my grandmother. I won’t lie, it has been rough. My mom’s parents helped raise me since I was 6 weeks old and I’m pretty sure my grandpa will continue to raise me even though I’m almost 30. My mom was single for most of my childhood, so my brother and I spent a lot of time with our grandparents.

We would go to their house in the morning before school, go back after school, do homework, sometimes have dinner, then my mom would pick us up and take us home. The next day we would repeat the cycle. I learned a lot of life lessons, developed a love for The Music Man, The Lawrence Welk Show, and Meet Me in St. Louis with Judy Garland, and ate the candy bars grandparents always seem to have stashed away.

This was the first real close death experience I have had in my life. I’ve experienced friends losing parents or children, but this was my own family. I was there when she died and waited a week to experience the funeral. I played a piano solo she had picked out months before she died, just in case. While I pride myself on having a keen ability to endure difficult times, I couldn’t hide the pain from my husband, Jake.

Jake taught me a lot over the past couple of weeks. It wasn’t until the funeral was over and I seized the opportunity to get back to normal that I realized the many silent services he provided during that time. I want to share a few simple things he did to make dealing with this loss a lot easier.

Don’t Complain. When your partner has experienced a loss, life still moves forward. You still have to go to work, deal with people, and make things run. This also means the typical annoyances that occur each day will still be there. For now, even though your partner is the person that will always listen to you vent, keep it to yourself. Make the sacrifice for a few weeks and let it go. The last thing they want to hear is a problem that, in comparison to their loss, is not important.

Don’t Ask, Just Do. People will constantly ask your spouse what they can do for them. They’ll say, “I’m here if you need anything.” The likelihood of them actually asking for help is small. You know what they need. Just do it. Start the laundry, do the dishes, vacuum the house, go get the oil changed in the car, go grocery shopping, and just create the most zen environment in your home possible. While some of these gestures may even go unnoticed, it will do wonders for the mindset of your partner.

Spread the Word. Take a moment to let your spouse’s close friends and co-workers know of the loss. Directly after this event, they’re likely not in the mood to tell the story over and over. Send a quick text to the important people that can be there when your partner is ready for their help. By doing this you are building up their support system.

Tia is a graduate of Utah Valley University class of 2012 with a degree in Behavioral Science. She is a group fitness instructor, and health and fitness coach. Together, Tia and her mother, a former news anchor, have developed marriage and relationship programs. She has a vested interest in working with children of divorce due to her own experience as a child of divorce. Tia is instrumental in helping children learn tools they need to build healthy relationships, loving, and respectful marriages once they've moved into adulthood. She is a contributing expert for HopeAfterDivorce.org, DivorceSupportCenter.com, FamilyShare.com, and LAFamily.com. You can follow Tia's relationship blog at http://www.janeenandtia.blogspot.com.

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