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How Can I Help My Grieving Husband?

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From the U.S.: Hello, my newlywed husband and I have had the fairy tale relationship- a kind I have dreamt about. Recently, his grandmother passed away after a lengthy fight against numerous medical conditions. He was extremely close to her. Originally, I believe he was shocked, and just cried into me. However, a week later, he became angry over the simplest things and threatened to leave me if I didn’t do XYZ (clean the house better, etc.). He had never said anything of the kind before. The next day he apologized and life was back to normal for a week. He said he loves me and can’t wait for our life together and is never going anywhere.

However, he is now on a break from everyone and everything- work, school, me, friends, and is just grieving. No texts, calls, no contact for over a week. He said he just needs to grieve. Not only do I not know how to help him, but now I am struggling and worrying will he ever leave me or was that his grief talking? How do I handle having no contact with the man I love? How can I possibly help him when he is emotionally closed off to me and everyone else other than give him time- or is that really what he needs?

Thank you so much!

How Can I Help My Grieving Husband?

Answered by on -

A.

People grieve in their own ways. It can take many forms. You didn’t mention how long this has been going on. If for only a week, your husband may be just needing to withdraw from life for a bit in order to get his bearings again. It’s not unusual when someone has lost someone who has been particularly important and loved to want to stop the world and get off for awhile.

Generally grieving lessens as time passes and people do get on with life — even while still having some moments where the loss hits again, painfully but in a way that can be managed. This can go on for quite awhile but it doesn’t interfere with day to day life.

But if his grieving goes on for so long that your husband can’t work or go to school or talk to anyone, he may be suffering from what is called complicated grief (sometimes called persistent complex bereavement disorder). In such cases, the grieving is so intense that it prevents the person from healing and moving on.

It’s all about timing. If your husband has been withdrawn for just a week, give him space, let him know you love him and that you are there for him. Take the lead from him. Don’t take it personally if he doesn’t have it in him to be there for you right now. But if it goes on for weeks and weeks, then it’s time to be concerned and to urge him to see a grief counselor to help him through this very difficult time.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

How Can I Help My Grieving Husband?

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. (2018). How Can I Help My Grieving Husband?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 22, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2018/10/28/how-can-i-help-my-grieving-husband/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 26 Oct 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 26 Oct 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.