How Your Grief Affects Your Partner
Grief is messy. When someone is truly suffering from grief, carrying out simple tasks like cooking, bathing, or getting the mail can feel impossible. Grief takes over parts of your brain that can typically pay attention to detail, so when you’re grieving, you’re more likely to make mistakes. It affects your sleep, appetite, libido, and so much more. Many people say that when they’re grieving, they feel like they’re barely alive—they’re just a breathing body, but that’s it. Naturally, if you are grieving and you’re in a serious relationship—particularly with someone you live with—your grief touches and impacts your partner. While, in a perfect world, you shouldn’t have to think about anyone else’s needs when you are grieving, that’s just not how the world is. Your partner wishes he didn’t have any needs and that he could just live to help you, but that’s not the case. As hard as it is, it’s important to know these ways your grief affects your partner.
He can’t make plans
It’s impossible for your partner to make plans with you. Plans don’t rely on simple things like schedules and availability. He knows that your emotions on any given day could mean a plan is canceled, so he’s given up on looking forward to things.
His problems are small, no matter what
He feels like no matter what he’s going through, it’s nothing compared to what you’re going through, so he often withholds some of his letdowns and disappointments from you.
He feels selfish for even having needs
Your partner feels selfish for even thinking about how your grief affects him. And then he feels resentful of you for feeling guilty for having needs. It’s very complex.
He feels bad giving you positive updates
He feels guilty telling you when good things happen to him, too. He knows that nothing can really feel good to you right now, so he doesn’t want to rub it in your face when positive things happen to him.
He’s sexually suppressed
The reality is that he’s a human being with physical needs. You probably have no libido when you’re grieving, and your partner feels guilty that he has one…but he does.
You forget details
Naturally, when you’re grieving, you can forget details—details like the fact that the UPS person is coming by with an important delivery from 3 to 5pm that you were supposed to stay home for.
He picks up house chores
It’s hard to stay on top of house chores when you’re grieving, but that likely means your partner has started doing all of yours. He may feel a bit underwater with all of that, and his other work.
He can’t get mad about anything
Even if you do something that upsets your partner, he likely feels like he’s not allowed to say anything because he’d be being insensitive.
Things feel heavy in the house
There is a heavy air in the house. It can’t be helped. And your partner knows that whatever heaviness he’s feeling—you’re feeling it ten times as bad. But he can dread coming home because it’s just such a sad place.
You tell him he doesn’t understand
He doesn’t understand, and he knows that, but he hates when you tell him he doesn’t understand. It sounds like you’re blaming him, but there’s nothing he could do about it. In fact, he wants to understand.
He feels left out if you connect with someone else on it
If you have a grief group, or simply know someone who has gone through the same thing, your partner might feel a bit jealous because you tell those people everything, and not him.
Sometimes, he knows you’re trying to avoid it
He’s not quite sure what to do when you use avoidance tactics like drinking and partying. Should he go along with it? Or should he make you face your feelings?
He knows when you put on a happy face for him
Sometimes, he knows you’re putting on a happy face just for his sake, and this makes him feel terribly guilty.
Sometimes, he wishes you’d put on a happy face
Then there are times, like during his birthday party or dinner with his colleagues, that he wishes you’d put on a happy face. He also feels guilty for wanting that.
He feels helpless
Overall, your partner is probably feeling a bit helpless. He can’t make you feel better. He can’t understand what you’re going through. He can’t get upset with you about anything. He just has to wait.