In your marriage, you’ll have many opportunities to celebrate, but you’ll also have opportunities to walk with each other through grief. You’ll grieve the death of loved ones, job losses, unwanted medical diagnoses, and the effects of your and others’ sin. The list could go on and on. Helping your spouse grieve is an honor because it’s a chance to support, love, comfort, and rely on the Lord specifically.
Helping your spouse grieve is also a burden of love because grief is challenging, exhausting, time-consuming, and can change someone forever. Some people may not always grieve well or in a way that glories the Heavenly Father, but some lessons can be learned. Here are some ways to help your spouse grieve.
Show them Christ’s love.
In the early stages of grief, some people immediately run to the Bible, finding extreme comfort in God’s love. However, there are others who, out of anger, numbness, or disappointment, say they find no comfort in God and that the Bible seems almost offensive. If this is how your spouse is acting, don’t be discouraged because this isn’t unusual, and their joy in the Lord will return in time. In the meantime, remember that you can show Christ’s love through your actions. The details of this may differ in different marriages because we all grieve differently.
However, the goal is to create a safe space where your spouse feels secure enough to ask you for what they need at the moment. Depending on the depth of their grief, they may not know what they need or how to ask for it, but 1 Corinthians 16:14 reminds us to do all we do in love. If you enter your spouse’s grief in love, you’ll not only glorify God, but you’ll bless your spouse beyond measure.
Be there for them.
Sometimes, we don’t understand another person’s grief. If the loss isn’t a death, then we may not comprehend why our spouse is hurting so deeply. However, we must remember Romans 12:15, which simply says, “Weep with those who weep.” Acknowledge your spouse’s pain and let them guide you in how you should be there for them. For some, grief makes them feel vulnerable, and they can’t stand the thought of being alone. This might mean you should take a few days off work, if possible, to be there for your spouse.
If time off isn’t an option, then you could find a trusted family member or friend to stay with your spouse during the hours you aren’t home. Some people need a person by their side to feel like they’re not unraveling, while others want someone in the house but without the pressure of engaging with them. Some people want to be left entirely alone, but even if that’s the case, they also need to know you’re available when they’re ready.
Be okay with having to sacrifice.
When your spouse is grieving, they likely won’t be themselves, and they’ll need extra everything, meaning you should be prepared to pick up the slack within your family and sacrifice your time, schedule, comfort, expectations, and preferences. There may be times during the grieving process when your spouse seems normal on the outside, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t isolating, crying or neglecting themselves on the inside, unable to think straight.
Their decision-making skills are affected, and the slightest obstacle can seem like a more significant ordeal. This might mean relieving your spouse of some of their responsibilities and adding what you can to your plate. If you aren’t ready for this, it’s easy to become frustrated and resentful over time. However, it would help if you remembered that Philippians 2:4 tells us to put the interests of others before our own.
Be okay if your spouse changes.
If you’ve never experienced profound grief, you may not expect the changes it brings, especially in the case of receiving a life-changing diagnosis or losing a special loved one. Changes may seem subtle initially but can be striking as time goes on. If you have kids, you may notice a difference in how your spouse relates to them. If they have hobbies, they may not bring the same enjoyment they once did, and you may see changes in your sex life. Your spouse might also become less fun-loving and more serious.
Some changes are expected and would be considered normal, but if you notice concerning changes in your spouse, don’t ignore them. For example, if you can see that grief has turned into a deep depression, you should seek help. Also, if you see changes that are so extreme that you feel unsafe or your spouse might be tempted to self-harm, seek help.
Be gracious and kind.
Everyone has said something they didn’t mean before, but grief can bring out the unpleasant parts in people. We often do and say things we wouldn’t typically do or say when we’re hurting, so be ready for your spouse to hurt your feelings, be insensitive, or just make life all about them for some time. You’ll have to assess for yourself when the time is right to address these behaviors, but in the early stages, be exceptionally gracious and kind. Understand that your spouse’s judgment is clouded, their thought process isn’t normal, and you may find that they stop using their filter when speaking.
However, under any circumstance, this doesn’t mean that you should subject yourself to being a victim of physical violence or verbal abuse, and if your spouse becomes hostile, you should seek help immediately. You should ensure that you and any children in the home are secure and bring in another adult who can help ensure that your spouse isn’t a threat to you or themselves.
Grief is challenging; make no mistake about it, but you should remind yourself that just as your spouse isn’t alone, neither are you. God is with both of you. He’s with your spouse as they grieve, and He’s with you as you support, love and serve. God will give you the power you need to walk this path with your spouse. He’s loving, merciful, and faithful. He never tires of hearing our cries to Him. So, let the Lord guide you as you guide your spouse through their grief.