Nothing can prepare you for the death of a parent. Whenever any parent dies, it's often very shocking and can affect your life in many ways. However, when a mother dies, your life may feel like it will never be the same. Adding to the trauma suffered from such a significant loss in your life, there tends to be little social support or validation to this type of loss in our society.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- How to Comfort Your Spouse Immediately After Their Mom Died
- How to Comfort Your Spouse For Months or Years After Their Mom Died
Despite the sorrow, these changes can be and often are positive ones after grief transforms. The relationship between you, your mother's age, and even your age at the time of her death has little relevance to the life-altering effect her death has on you. When a mother dies, it has the power to transform you and catapult you into adulthood, where your worldview forever changes.
How to Comfort Your Spouse Immediately After Their Mom Died
Understanding how men and women grieve is a vital step in understanding loss and how to help a grieving spouse dealing with their mom's death. No two people will ever suffer the same. Not only do men and women grieve differently, but they also express their feelings and emotions in ways that may cause pain and resentment to their spouses. The following are some ways to comfort your spouse and offer words of sympathy for the loss of a mother soon after getting the news.
Acknowledge their loss
Be empathetic when listening to your spouse tell you about their mother and what their death means to them. A person who’s grieving may repeat the same stories time and again, and you may get tired of hearing memories recounted to no end. Try to remain patient through this process.
After the initial shock of the bad news wears off, your loved one may shift from shock and disbelief to needing your emotional support. Simply acknowledging how they’re feeling is often enough to show them that you care. You can accomplish this by being present, listening without interrupting, and sympathizing.
Follow your spouse’s lead
Allow your spouse’s grief reactions and behaviors following this significant loss to lead your behavior and responses to them. It would help if you didn’t worry about not knowing what to say to make them feel better or about filling in the silence between bouts of emotions.
If your spouse breaks down crying, be there by their side to offer a tissue or wipe away their tears. No one’s expecting you to say anything profoundly meaningful. There’s nothing you can say or do to change the circumstances. Look to your spouse for guidance on how you should react to their loss.
Don’t compare your losses
Grief and marriage combine to make a complex and challenging life event that you must learn to navigate while avoiding common pitfalls. You might be tempted to share your stories of loss with your spouse to let them know how you handled your parent’s death. Even though you intend to help, your spouse may take it as insensitive and out of touch.
Try not to insist on comparing your grief to that of your spouse’s or insisting that your spouse grieve the way you suffered. Either of these suggests that they’re somehow doing it wrong. Everyone grieves differently, and you can never compare two losses of any kind.
Don’t try and fix things
Your grieving spouse isn’t looking for you to fix things in a situation that has no remedy. No one can ever change the outcome or bring their mother back despite their best efforts. You can lend support in many other ways aside from worrying about how to fix things. Try to show empathy without pitying your spouse or making them feel coddled after their mother dies.
Death is a natural progression in the cycle of life that not many people come to terms with until after a significant death of a family member occurs. There isn’t a cure or a fix to the cycle of life. Your spouse, although hurt and sorrowful, can learn to adjust to their loss in time.
Allow time to process the death
The process of grieving can be long and slow. You can’t make grief go away. You have to let it run its course. All you can do is allow your spouse time to process their loss and keep reassuring them that you’re there for them.
People grieve differently, so you’ll need to ask your spouse what precisely they need from you to help them through this challenging time. However, overall, patience is vital in comforting your spouse. It lets them know that they can depend on you to be there and that you’re not abandoning them when they need you most.
Pick up the slack at home
A great way to offer comfort and support to your grieving spouse after the death of their mother is to help around the house in ways that you don't normally do. If you've divided your household chores evenly, consider taking over their chores for a few weeks.
If your responsibility is to maintain the home while your spouse works outside the home, give them a reprieve from daily updates on what's going on at home needing maintenance or repair unless it's necessary. Some things can wait, although it may inconvenience you to do so.
How to Comfort Your Spouse For Months or Years After Their Mom Died
The grief suffered after a mother’s death doesn’t always completely go away. There may be lasting pain and sorrow, albeit hidden somewhere in the subconscious. Your spouse may continue to suffer from the pain of loss for many years after their mother’s death without making you aware of it.
You can assume that there’ll always be a bit of grief lingering that may surface from time to time. Sometimes grief rears its ugly head when least expected, with the smallest of things triggering it. Here are some ways for you to continue supporting your spouse months and years after their mother’s death.
Spend time alone
Make an effort to spend time alone with your spouse away from the children and others for you to reconnect after experiencing such a traumatic loss. Grief can either bring people together or tear them apart. Rarely is there ever an in-between. Some things the two of you can do together that don’t involve their deceased mother but show them that you care:
- Going out for a romantic dinner
- Spending time walking a local beach or hiking trail
- Watching an uplifting movie at a theater and sharing a popcorn
- Going window shopping for dream items
- Driving by the neighborhoods where each of you grew up
Remember their loved one
Honoring the memory of a deceased loved one is a particular way of comforting your spouse long after their mother’s death. Getting through the initial stages of grief may take your spouse anywhere from six to twelve months.
In some cases, grief can linger even longer. Just when your spouse is getting over the most challenging times of the grieving cycle, they may experience renewed bouts of sadness and sorrow that hit them seemingly out of the blue.
When this new wave of grief hits, this is an excellent time to come together in honor of their deceased mother to help ease the pain as you remember them and the impact they had on your lives.
Their mother’s death anniversary, birthday, and other special dates should be written down and commemorated even in the simplest ways to let your spouse know that you haven’t forgotten them. Consider picking or purchasing a small bouquet of sympathy flowers for your spouse to display in the home and another small bouquet to place on their mother’s grave.
The smallest gestures tend to go a long way in letting someone know that you care for them and remember them in their grief and sadness. If you’re at a loss for what to say when these days draw near, a simple “I’m thinking of you” should do the trick.
Avoiding the pitfalls of suffering a life-altering event can be challenging even in the strongest of marriages. Successful relationships that outlast the impact of traumatic events take constant work and getting through challenges. Remaining present in your relationship takes effort, especially when one spouse is in the throes of sorrow.
To show your spouse that you’re still there for them, give them your support by listening to them when they need to vent or talk about their experience. Show empathy when they want to talk about their mother, and offer your sincere condolences whenever they lead the conversation in that direction.
Give them space to mourn
Men and women have different needs when grieving. Give each other the needed space to mourn according to each of your grieving styles. Typically men tend to show their grief differently than women. While women will seek their support circle, family, and friends while openly grieving, men will mourn inwardly.
However, these examples don’t mean that all men and women show grief in this way. Always take your cues directly from your spouse. Give them the space they need to process their loss without forcing them to share their grief with you.
Reconnect with touch
The power of touch during grief has many healing effects. Many people who are grieving suffer through secondary losses of the lost companionship and relationship with the deceased.
Touch is one of the most fundamental biological needs of human beings. When this is absent from someone’s life due to the death of someone close to them or the falling apart of a romantic relationship, for example, people tend to grieve more deeply.
Embracing your spouse, touching them on the arm, or stroking their hair reconnects you on an emotional level and offers comfort and relief from their grief.
Supporting Your Spouse After the Death of Their Mother
The death of a mother is a significant milestone in most people’s lives. Your spouse is most likely not any different from others in that their mother’s death is a major, life-altering event for them. Supporting them while honoring their mother’s memory will help bridge the gap left behind by grief’s devastating blow.