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Grief. When you’re in the midst of it, you can sometimes hardly see straight, much less gather resources to help you navigate your new reality. I know the feeling all too well. 


This past week, I said goodbye to my mom. She passed away peacefully from pneumonia, at age 87. 


As I ponder her life and the privilege it has been to walk closely with her as she lived with us over half our marriage, I thought I’d share some thoughts about grieving. 


So here are a few things to help you now — and whenever the time comes that you might need them as a lifeline.


Build Resilience Through Social Connection


If the global isolation of 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we all need connection. As the Gottmans would remind us, “social isolation weakens resilience, while social connection strengthens it.” 


Let that be a reminder, now, to invest in strong friendships, family networks, and other reliable social connections. These relationships help you build your resilience and help you prepare for the trials that will inevitably find all of us at one point or another. And they can be a bulwark during dark times of loss and grief when we feel like we want to curl up in our bed forever and never leave. Beloved friends and family will come find you when you can’t help yourself. They’ll help see you through.


Turn Towards Your Partner


One of the best things you can do to help yourself in your grief is turn toward your partner. If you’re like many of us, you may find yourself wanting two things: to isolate and to have others reach out to you (especially your partner). In this post from mid-2022, I show you how turning towards can be the answer to both of those needs — and a great first step toward healing.


Ask Your Partner to Hold Space for Your Grief


Being in a relationship means carrying the pain of grief together. This piece of advice is for your partner, to help you in your time of grief. 


In the midst of grief, I often see couples respond in one of two ways: they have issues with avoidance or they’re codependent. 


Many people are so terrified or triggered by grief or pain that they refuse to acknowledge it or support their partner through it. They become uncomfortable, distant, and generally avoidant, just hoping their partner will get over it soon. But don’t misunderstand me; these aren’t people trying to be cruel. It’s not that they don’t care. It’s that these big emotions truly feel overwhelming to them, and they haven’t learned how to healthfully move through the emotion alone, let alone with a partner. So they do whatever they can to avoid it.


On the other hand, you have codependency. You have people who take on every emotion that their partner feels: they are in every ounce of pain their partner is, they feel each wave of grief and are essentially controlled by the ups and downs of their partner’s emotional state. That is no more healthy than the avoidant partner.


We all tend to veer one way or the other, and recognizing your own tendency is a sign of healthy self-awareness. For more on this topic and for guidance on how to manage grief together, check out this post.


Overcome a Depressive Episode With Help from Your Partner


During times of acute pain, loss, and grief, it’s not uncommon to experience difficult periods of depression. Having a supportive partner by your side to help you help yourself is absolutely invaluable. They can make calls for you, schedule appointments and connect you with professional help, listen to you, cry with you, help you get out of the house, connect with your social network, and take you to your doctor (there is no shame in seeking medication for help with depression). 


You can learn more on the subject of depression as it relates to loss and grief here.