The impact of loss, whether it be through miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, is immense. This grieving process can often feel lonely both for you as an individual and for you and your partner as a couple. Differences in how you process the experience individually within your relationship have the potential to exacerbate these feelings of loneliness. When experiencing this grief, it is important to turn towards each other and try to understand one another’s unique grieving process.
While each of you are likely experiencing equally intense feelings of grief, it may show up in very different ways. One partner, often times the male-identified partner in heterosexual relationships, may be less open about expressing grief. This often clashes with how the other partner copes. Women tend to cope by talking about their grief and seeking emotional support. In contrast, men tend to cope by using humor or denial. Men also may grieve for a shorter duration and resume usual routines more quickly. On the surface, these opposing coping strategies may leave you feeling alone and even resentful towards your partner. Without further exploration, you may think that your partner is not grieving as intensely and feel like they aren’t caring for your feelings and needs throughout the grieving experience. In reality, it is likely that they are grieving just as intensely, but sitting in the discomfort and talking about it may feel overwhelming. They also might be feeling responsible for remaining “strong” to provide support in other ways.
Differences in how you and your partner react to and process grief can lead to conflict and dissatisfaction within your relationship. Stepping away from assumptions and into curiosity about what the other person is feeling and why they are reacting the way they are can help bring you closer together and feel less alone. At the same time, we understand that meeting contrasting needs can feel difficult. It is often helpful to utilize couples therapy to navigate your loss together. At Wildflower, we are here to support you and can help you collaboratively manage conflict and improve communication, as well as process the grief you are experiencing during this most vulnerable time.
“When it takes everything out of you just to breathe. When you wonder if another breath is even possible. When you feel yourself slipping away into the darkness. You are not alone.” – Tom Zuba, Permission to Mourn