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When grief tests relationships: How to support your bereaved partner

In a relationship when one partner loses someone they are very close to, it can affect a relationship in ways one can't imagine.

Written by Amrita Sharma | New Delhi |
August 24, 2015 3:27:25 pm
mourning-main there are times when grief ends up alienating and dividing the couples if the other partner does not empathize or understand what the other is going through. (Source: Thinkstock Images)

In a relationship when one partner loses someone they are very close to, it can affect a relationship in ways one can’t imagine.

The bereaved partner goes through a lot of emotions and finds it difficult to cope with the loss. Such times are difficult even for the other partner who is trying to help the other deal with the loss.

But there are times when grief ends up alienating and dividing the couples if the other partner does not empathise or understand what the other is going through.

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Take the case of Sneha and Rohit. When Rohit lost his mother, he was devastated because he was very close to his mother and losing her meant losing a part of himself.

He felt numb and found himself losing interest in everything.

Sneha was supportive initially but gradually started losing patience with his growing lack of emotional response.

“I could understand how difficult it must be to lose his mother but then he can’t keep grieving endlessly. It’s not like our life has come to an end. He needs to come back to life for me, for our relationship,” she said.

Rohit on the other hand, felt really let down by Sneha’s impatience.

“She has no idea what I am going through. I need her to allow me the time and space to grieve, to come to terms with my loss without putting pressure on me. What makes her think she can decide or know how much time is enough for me to get over my grief?” he says.

It is the lack of proper understanding and support at times of grief that often cause irreparable damage to the relationship.

On the other hand, sometimes bonding due to one partner’s grief can make the relationship stronger and deeper.

This is what happened with Megha and Vikram. When Megha lost her father Vikram was there by her side throughout. He let her mourn her loss and gave her all the time she needed to recover from her pain.

“After that incident, I grew to love him more. I started respecting him for his support and commitment to me and what we shared. I started seeing him in a new light and realized that he was a partner in the real sense,” says Megha.

Counsellors say that in trying times, it is the support and patience of the partner towards the bereaved partner that can often make or break a relationship.

If such difficult times are handled with care and concern, then the relationship can actually emerge stronger than ever before.

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