How to Support Greiving Husband

Updated on November 18, 2006
N.V. asks from Henderson, NV
9 answers

My sensitive husband recently lost one of his high school buddies in the past week, and I am having a hard time helping him deal with this loss. He is not normally a drinker or a social person, but since the death he's been pursueing these outlets. I'm not jealous of the social aspect of his grieving because i think it will help him get thru it. However, he doesn't normally drink and he has a way of putting aside his feelings so that it seems like nothing is wrong. How do I support my man in his time of need w/out being to motherly and over-protective?

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L.B.

answers from Anchorage on

Hi N., i agree with the responces you have recieved. just be patient. let him know you are there for him if and when he wants to talk. he might not want to open up and thats okay. when my mother died my husband just left me alone to grieve but let me know he was there.but i just grieved and i didnt need to open up but it was nice to know that if i wanted to he was there.and i agree if you haven't been there dont say you understand because for some reason when you are grieving and someone says that to you and you know they have not been there it makes you mad.and you can tell him if you would like me to go to the funeral i will be there for you. or he might just want to by himself. and let that be okay to dont feel left out everyone deals with death differently. good luck sweety it to will pass.

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J.H.

answers from Boise on

Grief is such a hard emotion to understand. I lost my husband of 20+ years a few years back. We had two children who were 14 and 8 at the time of his death and it was honestly the toughest most devastating ordeal I have ever experienced, not just the fact that my husband, my everything was gone but the real sorrow was for my children. How was I going to help them through their grief. I so needed my friends and family to be there for me emtionally but in no certain way. I found that many people didn't know what to say so they simply disappeared completely, this was the hard way to find out who my friends were and were NOT. I found that the people who sincerely let me know that if I needed them, they were there and then really meant it, not just saying they "were there for me" but when I called upon them for something, there they were. Just knowing that if I needed a shoulder to cry on or if I needed someone to talk about all of the good old times with or even to just sit and need not say a word, there was someone there. I think if you just let your husband know that even though you can't imagine his loss and how he is feeling right now, that you are there for him, to talk with to remember with or as I said before to sit there in silence with. Sometimes just KNOWING that we are not alone and that there is someone who cares and they are but a request away, it makes us feel better. Nothing makes grief go away faster or makes it less painful; everyone grieves in their own way and on their own time table. It can't be hurried, it can't be swept under the carpet, it must be dealt with and as long as your husband feels you by his side, he will feel less and less grief each day. The drinking is the scary part. If your husband has, in the past dealt with rough times in this way and he found his way back after a short time period, I wouldn't be too concerned however, drinking is like playing with fire when dealing with grief and the death of someone you cared for. It prolongs the sadness and it can also allow anger and the unfairness of death to enter the picture which never is a good combination. My husband, before his death drank too much on many occassions and it only added negative things to the situation. If, for some reason, you feel that he is not recovering in a time period that seems acceptable, it may be that depression has become part of it. Depression in itself can cause the grief process to linger for too long. You know your husband best, so do keep an eye on him and if you have any concerns, check with a local grief group or even a local AA group. there are many out there perhaps call a church and ask if they have a group that meets there and perhaps you can speak with a facilitator and get some ideas of how you might get him some extra help. I am in no way saying your husband has a drinking problem, he is probably just like the main part of the population, simply a social drinker. My only concern would be that grief can so affect something like social drinking and turn it into something so much more complicated. Do not let it get out of hand, if you need to get help, seek it out. I will say it again, Grief is a hard emotion to understand, let a lone deal with. Good luck.

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A.H.

answers from Phoenix on

I've never been in your situation but I think he might need to talk to a grevence counseler. I know there out there or maybe a family therapy thing that way he wont feel like he's being attatcked. Tell him that YOU feel there is strain on the family and YOU"D feel better if you all went to individual and group family counseling sessions. Do it quick because you don't want him to waste his feelings in booze. that's not healthy and it will rub off on the rest of the family. also on your relationship and if it gets too far he wont know how to turn back.

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M.P.

answers from Portland on

There is a lot of good info here. If you are interested in a grief support group most hospitals have them for free. There are no restrictions about who can attend. ie; death doesn't have to have occurred in their hospital or person be related to the person who died.

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T.W.

answers from Seattle on

I'm sure his experience was jarring, seeing someone who is your peer just...well, I cannot imagine. So he is questioning himself, his identity, his lifestyle...if he sees you in the places that he ventures, keeping close but not too close, he will appreciate your quiet and gentle presence. It may be tough with little ones at home, but can you go with him to these places? Drink virgin drinks and just smile and be there for him? This isn't meant to be anything but a reassuring presence for him. Visiting the grave site, prayers and coming to terms with where his friend is now are ways to cope as well as time. Good luck

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M.C.

answers from Salt Lake City on

N.,

I know firsthand that grief strikes everybody differently. I needed people around me, lots of people, after my daughter died. I agree with the other poster that your husband probably really needs to be listened to. I think he just needs some time to handle his grief the way he will without being forced to grieve according to other people's guidelines. Make sure he knows you're there to talk to, that you're comfortable with talking about it, and that you hope he's comfortable talking about anything with you. Don't pressure him to talk, though. Sometimes a look or a certain touch on the hand acknowledges a silent understanding of how he's feeling and that's enough.

It is important, however, to make sure he knows it's okay to act differently while grief-stricken but that he is still obligated to his family. Different behavior is often just a stage of grief, but, as a precaution, maybe the two of you should discuss at which point you should consider help from a third-party.

Hang in there,

-M.-

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B.M.

answers from Boise on

This is interesting. My husband came home from work yesterday to tell me that one of his close high school buddies is brain dead (I think they may have taken him off life support by now), so I can really relate to this. My husband also drank much more than usual last night. This is the 2nd time that he has lost a close friend, and it is hard. But, it gets better. My husband will probably drink more than normal for a few days like he did the time before. It is just his way of dealing with things. I say just let your husband have a little time to deal with this as he wants. Tell him that you are genuinely sorry, and that if he wants to talk about it, you are there for him. Just try to be supportive. He may not want to talk about it with you, but he will probably appreciate you just being there. He won't grieve forever, it does get easier. But, death is such a hard thing. My husband told me last night that I was acting too happy. I told him I just was trying to be upbeat and understanding. I told him if there is something he would rather me do, than to let me know. I also told him it is okay to have multiple emotions. (too be very sad about this situation but to also feel love for our newborn daughter) I now that he will be fine. I would not really worry much unless this goes on for over 2 weeks. Just let him know that you are there for him, and unless you were also very close or have been in the exact situation, don't say you understand. That can be a frustrating thing to hear if it is someone that cannot fully understand. I hope this helps.

B.

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S.P.

answers from Great Falls on

Sometimes the best help you can give is to just listen. Let him do the talking. Platitudes don't serve any purpose. I lost an Aunt last thanksgiving and all the so sorries didn't make me feel better. Telling stories about her made it better. Now, I just remember how much fun she and my mom used to have. It's going to take awhile but just your support and presence will help your husband the best.

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S.S.

answers from Portland on

Have you thought about a greif class? There is an excellent greif counselor who does classes for a minimal charge. IT's called Mending Hearts/Greif release and it is excellent. What your husband is doing is so very normal!

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