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My partner is grieving

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My partner’s mom died over 5 months ago from an accidental overdose. My partner cried and cried for the first two weeks and seemed to get a little better everyday after that. Over the last month she has been behaving distant and acting depressed and says she’s just missing her mom and trying to cope and deal with the loss. She never wants to touch, show affection, or be intimate with me anymore. She gets angry with me over things that were her her own decisions. I have read a lot on depression lately… the problem I am having is that she doesn’t act this way with everyone. She never wants to just joke with me or have fun with me…but she continues to joke and have fun with her other friends. I know that she feels safe with me and maybe feels like when its just us she can just be sad… but I am hurt. I just want to learn to accept this, that she needs to grieve and since she is closest with me she will allow her feelings to come out more readily. But I get so hurt by it.

I know when I’m depressed… I’m depressed around everyone. She is only depressed around me. I ask her if there’s more to it and she just says she’s foggy and doesn’t know why her mom did that. I just feel lost and unloved and want to try to figure out a way to keep loving her while she doesn’t show her love for me.

My partner is grieving

Answered by on -

A.

I’m sorry for your partner’s loss and for your hurt and confusion. Please understand that she is grieving. Grief is different than depression. The death of a parent, especially such a tragic and unexpected death, can be very, very hard. Her mother has been gone for only 5 months. It is not at all unusual for it to take a year or more for a person to fully metabolize a significant loss.

Your partner’s relationship with you is significantly different than her relationship with her friends. She loves you. On some level, she may feel that to love carries too great a risk. She may think she simply couldn’t stand another loss. To protect herself, she may be distancing from you for a bit.

According to HelpGuide’s website, “Inevitably, the grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold. As time passes following a significant loss, such as the death of a loved one, it’s normal for feelings of sadness, numbness, or anger to gradually ease. These and other difficult emotions become less intense as you begin to accept the loss and start to move forward with your life.”

My suggestion to you is that you focus on her for now. Love her unselfishly. Be there for her. Don’t expect a lot back. Give her time and space to grieve. Ask her what she most wants to do to remember her mother and try to respect whatever activities she thinks will give her comfort. As she moves through the normal stages of grief, she will most likely gradually resume the closeness with you. Every now and then, she is likely to have periods of hours or even a day or two when she will need to revisit her grief fully. Please don’t feel threatened by it. It’s part of the process.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

My partner is grieving

This article has been updated from the original version, which was originally published here on February 25, 2010.

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2019). My partner is grieving. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/02/25/my-partner-is-grieving/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 2 Jun 2019 (Originally: 25 Feb 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 2 Jun 2019
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.