In times of grief words can't convey the enormity of the feelings experienced. Often in these times those closest to us are also at a loss for words, and may feel uncomfortable with knowing how to give comfort. In moments like those, it is okay for a person to not say much. In fact those trying to console often put their foot in their mouths by saying the completely wrong thing, which is not what you are going for. When consoling another, if you find yourself struggling for words, instead try something different:
1. Acknowledge the loss - don't be afraid to speak the name of the dead. Often hearing loss acknowledged is comforting to a person. Simply saying I was sorry to hear the news of... can be comforting. After acknowledging it is okay to be silent. No one needs to hear about your great aunt who also had cancer, or that person who you know who.... Unless it is positive memories about the person currently being grieved over, just be silent.
2. Do less verbally, and more with your body. - Be physically present and in the same room. If they want to zone out by watching a movie, watch it with them. Take care of the necessities like cooking and cleaning. Deliver kids to after school activities, and ask how you can be helpful. Don't just be passive (if you need anything call me), instead call them, text them and then show up. Do, don't just say it. If you feel lead, ask if you can hug them, and then do it.
3. Remember loss does not have an expiration date - Grief is different for everyone, and it's not something that just goes away. Be kind in your interactions and remember that just because a funeral is over doesn't mean the grief is gone. Give them time to grieve, and continue to be there.
4. Long after the loss, ask them how they are doing, and really listen. - When a person is ready to talk, there is a lot that comes out. Sometimes a person needs to emotionally vomit up all the things they've been holding inside. Other times they may need to cry, or to not think about it, or to laugh. Try to gauge what they need, and fill that need.
At times in life things happen that leave us feeling depleted, it could be the joys and hardship of a new baby (and subsequent lack of sleep and hygiene needs), a death of a loved one, a life altering medical diagnosis, or if you live in Minnesota right now - it might be this completely depressing weather that just won't give up. Regardless, life can be hard, and sometimes just getting through the day can seem almost unbearable. So how do you love your partner when daily functioning seems like a stretch, and a big part of you just wants to stay in bed with the covers thrown up over your head?
First remember the blessing and curse that is existence means that time carries on. So although it sounds trite keep in mind that this too shall pass. Often when faced with hardship it feels like the world is ending, and things will never get better but time can do amazing things with our souls when it comes to finding peace and healing.
Then go for the basics:
Basic #1 - Be like a doctor and "do no harm". When life is hard, it's easy to snap at your partner because of how you're feeling. Instead practice silence when you feel like lashing out. Or better yet, communicate how your feeling to your partner so that they understand your new found quiet and don't misinterpret it to reflect something about them.
Basic #2 - Be kind to yourself and give yourself some space. Wait, I thought we were talking about how to be a good partner? Well, this is how, take care of yourself in the ways your body needs and you will naturally be kinder and more loving to those around you. Remember we are being basic here, so I am not even talking bubble baths, I'm talking - food, sleep, showers, etc. Things that make you feel more stable and supported, then if you'd like you could do something special for yourself too like a bubble bath, a walk around a park, worship, watching a movie, etc. Eventually work towards doing things that could re-energize your soul.
Basic #3 - Let your mouth mount praises. Whow - what the heck? When life is hard you want praises? YES! Praising your partner is like breathing air into the relationship. Let them know what you appreciate, how you feel about them, how awesome you think they are, and why you continue to love them so very much every day. Be authentic and be encouraging. Now, I know some of you are saying, this is really hard went I don't even wanna get dressed in the morning, and to that I say...yes, yes it is. And you can still do it. Take a moment to remember why you chose them as your partner, and then let those reasons stumble out of your mouth.
So as you peak your head out over the blankets and decide to brave the day, remember that your partner is just that a partner. They can be a great source of support, comfort and joy even when life is hard. Whatever this is, it is something you and your partner can get through T-O-G-E-T-H-E-R. You want a good relationship and a source of support, so make sure that you are following the basics even when it's hard. It may be hard to believe but even in the darkest of hours your relationship can remain a vibrant mainline of security and love. Besides, if you're going to be under covers isn't it more fun to have your partner in there with you?
Thoughts and musings to consider.