Coping With Grief Series_Part 6 BANNER
GRIEF AND BEREAVEMENT

Coping With Grief Part 6: How To talk About Death With Your Partner

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  • Claire Hoffman
  • Writer, Bare
  • August 12, 2020
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My name is Claire and I’m a Customer Experience Manager at Bare Cremation.

Two years ago, my husband was suddenly and traumatically taken from me. This ever-present fixture in my life was suddenly gone. After going through grief myself, I wanted to share my story. So I’ve put together this eight-part series about coping with loss and bereavement based on my personal experiences with grief.

As a society, we’re not great at dealing with death and grief. At Bare, we want to change this. In this third article in the series, I’ll talk about how to speak with your partner about grief.

Grief can be an extraordinarily difficult issue to navigate as a couple. It can be hard to take on another person’s grief, or even think about what their needs are if you’re (completely understandably) swamped by your own feelings.

We all think about death and grief differently

Death is not something that everyone talks about. We might not even be aware of the things that are important to us in grief and dying until we’re confronted with it in our own lives. Sometimes, people can be together for years without really discussing their understanding, view or expectations around death.

One partner may be keen to visit the cemetery regularly – this may be part of how they honour the dead. The other partner may find this too confronting and prefer to spend time in places where they spent time with the person they’re missing – this may be how they honour the dead.

People may have different ideas of what constitutes a ‘good death’; what grieving should actually look like; and what feelings and behaviours are acceptable. These concepts are hard to talk about, so this is why talking is important. Say what you can, when you can, and listen.

You and your partner probably won’t grieve in-sync

Accept that you and your partner are unlikely to grieve in-sync with each other. This can be difficult. One person may be ready to share memories or start sorting through personal belongings, while for the other person it may be still too painful.

Maintain connection after a death

It’s important to keep connected with your partner after a death. Carve out time to do something that helps both of you. This may be a walk, or watching a movie, looking at photographs, playing a board game or listening to music. Whatever can bring you back to a point of connection.

Talking about death and grief with your partner.
Talking about death with your partner can be difficult, but it’s important to navigate grief as a couple.

We all grieve uniquely

Our grieving processes are completely unique, so keep in mind that you and your partner won’t grieve the same way after a death. It can be hard if one partner craves space and solitude and the other partner craves closeness. This can cause one partner to feel abandoned and the other to feel overwhelmed. The key thing here is to keep communicating as peacefully as possible whilst also being willing to truly listen to what your partner is communicating to you.

Lean on your community

After a loss, it’s helpful to utilise support outside of the relationship through friends, family members and perhaps a professional such as a counsellor or psychologist.

Care for each other

Caring for one another after a loss is important. Perhaps you make your partner a cup of tea, bring them a blanket or give them a hug. It may even mean giving one another space. Caring for each other can happen in an ebb and flow – one person may need more care on a given day than the other partner, then this may switch. But that ebb and flow is important – it must be a two-way street.

In this eight-part Coping With Grief series, I’m going to share with you what I learnt about having healthy conversations – with yourself, your friends, your kids. I share some advice for those on the other side of grief on how you can be a good friend, a good partner and a good human.

In this eight-part Coping With Grief series, I’m going to share with you what I learnt about having healthy conversations – with yourself, your friends, your kids. I share some advice for those on the other side of grief on how you can be a good friend, a good partner and a good human.

You can read my other articles in the series including 5 Biggest Grief Myths Busted and The Day My World Changed Forever. Look out for the other articles in the series coming soon. We’ve also compiled a list of useful bereavement, grief counselling and other support services across Australia here.

All information provided is general in nature. For additional information relating to advance care planning, please speak to your health professional for advice about your specific circumstances. If you or someone you know is at immediate risk of harm to yourself or others, call 000. For Lifeline’s Crisis Counselling service call 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636.

Want to see what our cremation service will cost in your area?To get a free quote, visit the Bare Cremation website, or call 1800 841 639.

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