There are a variety of themes or issues that may impact relationships in various ways, and one of the most significant for many people – and for understandable reasons – is grief. The loss of a loved one or friend is never easy, and there are times where this sort of thing can heavily impact many of our closest relationships.
At Sunrise Solutions, we’re proud to offer numerous forms of marriage counseling, couples therapy and even grief counseling to patients around Draper. Here are some of the ways grief may impact a relationship, some of the approaches couples take to managing grief, and some other healthy basics to be aware of in this area.
Different People Experience Grief in Varying Ways
One of the first ways that grief can impact relationships is the way each person experiences it. It’s important to understand that everyone has different backgrounds, outlooks and feelings on life, so they may handle grief in completely different ways. This can cause conflict if one partner is expecting the other to experience and act a certain way, when that isn’t reality.
For instance, one partner may find solace in talking about the person that has passed, while another might want to remain silent and avoid the topic altogether. This can lead to arguments or feelings of misunderstanding between two people, so it’s best to be aware of this before it becomes an issue.
Grieving at Different “Paces”
Down related lines, it’s also important to note that everyone grieves at their own speed. Some people may immediately accept the loss and start moving on, while others might take months or years to come to terms with it.
So long as each partner is supportive of one another’s process, there shouldn’t be any problem here – but again, this can cause issues if one partner feels the other isn’t moving on fast enough or is spending too much time in grief.
Differing Needs for Emotional Support
Another possible complicator from grief can be a difference in needs for emotional support. A partner that is currently grieving may need more care, understanding and attention than the other, making it difficult for both to feel satisfied in the relationship.
Again, this comes down to communication and understanding – if each partner knows what their expectations are going into it and works together on finding a middle ground, this problem can be easily avoided.
Exacerbating Existing Issues
If your relationships already has its fair share of issues, the additional stress and strain from grief can make matters much worse. This is especially true if a couple lacked communication or understanding prior to the passing – sudden changes in emotions and needs can easily overwhelm people that weren’t used to being so open about things before.
In cases like this, certain forms of counseling can be immensely helpful – both for learning how to cope with the passing and for dealing with any existing relationship issues. Professional help can be invaluable in these sorts of circumstances, so don’t be afraid to look into it if you think your situation could benefit from it.
Healthy Approaches for Managing Grief in Relationships
While this is far from an exhaustive list, here are a few general approaches that are often effective for both partners within a relationship while managing grief of any kind:
- Full honesty: It’s important that both of you are open and honest with each other about your feelings on the passing – keeping any issues to yourself can only make matters worse. Take the time to listen and understand each other, as well.
- Take breaks: If emotions are running high, take a few minutes apart from one another to relax and decompress. This can help both of you go back into the conversation with a clearer head afterwards.
- Focus on supporting: Direct your energy towards helping each other instead of trying to top one another in the sadness department.
- Be patient: Everyone grieves differently, so don’t be too hard on either of you if it takes longer than expected to move past it. Above all else, treat each other with understanding and kindness – that’s what matters most at a time like this.
- Prepare for challenges: Especially if grief is due to the passing of a loved one that was close to both of you, be aware of the fact that some challenges may arise in the relationship. Work together to navigate them and try to come out stronger on the other side.
- Consider counseling: Even if grief issues are not causing major issues in the relationship, talking to a professional can help both of you process it and come out stronger from the experience. It doesn’t hurt to look into it. And if your relationship is experiencing struggles partially or fully due to the grief, it can be an invaluable tool.
Ultimately, grief is difficult no matter the circumstance – but when two people are working together to manage it, there’s always hope for coming out on top after all is said and done. Don’t let grief take over your relationship – instead, use it as an opportunity to strengthen your bond and grow together.
At Sunrise Solutions, we are here to support you both during this difficult time – so please don’t hesitate to reach out and let us help. Contact us today to learn about any of our couples therapy.