Monday, August 21, 2006

Spouses: If You Want to help...Read This

Since losing my own mom a little over a year ago, I am surprised and at times shocked at both the compassion and the lack of compassion spouses show their significant others during a time of mourning. In this months Readers Digest, a woman writes in that hubby just lost both of his parents and is bringing home items only a mother would love and she's not his mother-what should she do. Sure, the advice was good. His reaction could be alot worse than bringing home sentimentals. I want to write in-and probably will-that the problem is not in hubby bringing home things. The problem is her lack of compassion. Hubby is trying to go on with life without the history he had in his parents. All he has are memories. If he wants them within arms reach, what is wrong with that?

You see, losing both parents leaves you totally vulnerable. Your umbrella of protection is gone. You are now the parent. Your relationship with the world changes. You are no longer an adult child but an adult. That shift affects people differently. I responded very emotionally to Elementary Schools. I remember eatting lunch with my nephew 6-8 months following my moms death and just being in that environment made me long for my childhood again. I wanted to be the child again. And I couldn't be. The smells of the cafeteria, crayons and books overwhelmed me in the strangest of ways. It is an adjustment that takes time to make. If I didn't have a spouse that supported me and understood, I'd have an even tougher time making it.

All of us go through losses through life. Any loss can trigger powerful emotions. Vulnerability, inadequacy, fear, sadness, depression, anger....and they are all normal. If your significant other is going through or has gone through a loss, support them. Try to understand what they are feeling and let them know it's normal and natural. Don't say "It's time to go on with life" or "You need to get a grip" or threaten to write Readers Digest. See, your time of loss will come and eventually you'll understand first hand. Even if you don't totally get it now, you will.

And for the lady looking for advice from Readers Digest, my advice from experience is this: let hubby deal with his grief in whatever way suits him as long as he's not hurting anyone in the process. It is just that-a process. Show some love and empathy and it will speed that process along-and you'll look like the hero in the end.