How to Handle Loss as a Couple In the event of a death, itís more important then ever for couples to come together and be there for one another. See how you and your spouse can help overcome a tragedy, together. BY SUE ALPERT
It's important that you and your spouse come together even closer in a time of loss.
“ You must make the extra effort to share your thoughts and pain, and to form a workable plan to handle the logistics that are left for both of you to handle.”
If you and your spouse are experiencing the heartbreak of losing a loved one, you are undoubtedly filled an emptiness, sadness, confusion and the uncertainty of your new world with this new void. How do you accept your own feelings and the myriad of stress-related issues, much less support your spouse with their grief? This is a crucial time in your marriage. Itís a time for bonding, for sharing, for open communication, extra patience and becoming a true partner, a team, in the process of making sense of a situation that is filled with questions and often indescribable emotions.
Itís crucial that you imagine how your spouse is handling their grief and fear. You must make the extra effort to share your thoughts and pain, and to form a workable plan to handle the logistics that are left for both of you to handle.
Your relationship with the deceased will determine your responsibilities. You may have a lost a grandparent, a parent, child, sibling, other relative or friend who was relying on you to help if they were to pass. Regardless of the depth of your involvement, you both have to roll up your sleeves and tackle what lies ahead.
Remember, it will all be handled, but not all at one time. Thereís an order to follow and it begins with:
* Break the whole into simpler parts and divide the tasks between the two of you. You each have individual strengths and weakness. Capitalize on these. In my book, "Driving Solo" I divide the process into three phases which includes prioritizing; an A and B list of notification; and assessing what exists and what has to be found, evaluated and acted uponóand when.
* It will help if you ask for assistance from your spouse or others. Itís courageous to ask, not a sign of weakness. Find friends, relatives, professionals who can assist or guide.
* Be organized. This is the time for labeled files and folders. Donít use your daily living space as a workplace for this sad part of your life. Designate a spot.
* Share your progress or stumbling blocks with your partner daily. This will not only avoid duplication, but will prevent important pieces from falling through the cracks.
* Take care of yourself and your partner. You may not feel like you have time, but even if you have to force yourself be sure to rest, exercise, eat somewhat balanced meals and check that your partner is doing the same. Itís common when overwhelmed while grieving and settling affairs to become stressed, weak, confused and ill. Only you can minimize that.
Additional Tips * Donít impose unrealistic expectations on yourself or your spouse for completing the process.
* Go slowly, take your time, rushing can lead to errors that can impact your future.
* Remind yourself that you will both be okay and stronger, even if you donít believe it now.
* Get supportógrief counseling, church, doctor, civic resources. It really helps.
* Regard the pile of paperwork as a necessary task, but also an important diversion from your grief.
Acknowledge each little stride you and your spouse make. Complement each other. Appreciate the ability you didnít know you had and the achievement you both have made, together.
Losing a loved one is devastating and life altering. Handling the business logistics compounds the pain, but as a couple you have an advantage. Not only can the work be divided, but having someone with whom to share, someone you trust, someone you love and loves you back makes the seemingly impossible now doable and is a tool to strengthen your marriage and future.
Susan Alpert is the creator of Chaos to Control, a program through which she coaches the bereaved on business aspects of death and other major life changes. Alpert Ė a successful businesswoman, educator and serial entrepreneur who has run several multi-million dollar companies Ė created the program after losing her husband of 46 years. Alpert is the founder of several companies, numerous focus groups and most recently her own consulting firm. Alpert holds masterís degrees in psychology and education, and has extensive experience in the fields of negotiation, finance, international services and business.