Chapter 5: Others in your family

Your partner or spouse

My wife and I were fighting before Dad died – about everything. It just didn’t feel right turning to her. My hockey buddies are my support. I’m surprised at how close we’ve become through all this.

Sue and my mom were like oil and water. But when Dad died, Mom actually turned to Sue for support. It’s like they started over. They saw each other differently and have been friends ever since. It’s brought us closer as a couple.

You may find that your partner or spouse is a source of support, patience, and understanding as you grieve. If this is not your experience, they may be feeling helpless and may not know how to support you. We sometimes expect those closest to us to know how we’re feeling and how to be there for us. Talking to your partner about what support you might need can be helpful. You may just want someone to listen without advising. You might just want to be held in silence or to go for a walk together.

Depending on the relationship that your partner had with your parent, they might also be experiencing deep grief. They may not be sharing their grief with you because they don’t want to add to your grief. They might feel they don’t have the same right to grieve.

Stress and grief can also intensify ongoing issues and conflicts in all relationships. If your relationship is strained and your partner can’t provide the support you need, it may be helpful to look to others who have been supportive in the past.


What may help

It can be healing for you and your partner to talk about your parent and what they meant to each of you.

Keep in mind that there will be times when each of you wants to talk about the loss and times when you want to focus on something else. Recognize that this timing may be different for each of you.

It’s okay to take breaks from your grief and to do something distracting. Try to maintain open and honest communication with each other about this and about ways you can support one another.

Many find it helpful to talk to an experienced grief counsellor or hear the experiences of others in a bereavement support group. 

Helpful resources - Module 4: Moving through grief