When a child has died, a man and a woman who loved that child are experiencing a chaos of emotion. Two people in brokenhearted chaos, living together, sounds like a recipe for relationship disaster! Usually, life allows you to take turns with difficult situations that produce big emotions. In better days, you may have a good pattern of helping one another in turns when you had these kind of challenges. But not now, when you both lost a child. These patterns may not work at all because each of you is so broken. Each of you may be wanting and hoping that you can lean on your spouse the way you used to. But, frankly, my friends, those are unrealistic expectations at this time. Neither of you has the resources within you to be that strong tower on which the other can lean.
Each of you will need to share your emotions and listen to your partner, but you can’t resolve the other’s emotional battles. Not at this time. Each of you needs to find an ally but be careful!! Don’t expect too much from your brokenhearted partner, but be aware there could be danger for your marriage when seeking comfort from another person, because that helping, comforting relationship inherently has a degree of emotional intimacy. Be careful.
I propose this plan for your emotional support:
- Share your thoughts with your mate. But don’t expect him or her to solve your problems.
- Find an ally for you personally, and make sure your spouse knows and approves of this person. This ally is one to whom you can talk honestly about anything and everything. They’ll listen without judging. They will give good sound godly advice, but infrequently. They’ll speak words of truth and grace to you. They will listen again and again, as much as you need to talk. And they won’t make the kind of emotional attachment that’s reserved only for your spouse.
- This ally could actually be a support group, a group of godly people.
- Lean into Christ, and then share what you learn from Him.
If you are leaning into Jesus and leaning into the grief, you will be closer to your spouse than it seems. You are both leaning in the same direction. If you are sharing your thoughts, sharing what is comforting you and listening to your partner, that’s true communication, even if you can’t solve their pain. And remember, that you each are grieving your own different and unique losses in your own unique way. The Lord who made and understands each of you individually, is meeting your heart needs in unique ways. Don’t expect that what helps and comforts you will help and comfort your spouse. But keep sharing. It’s Biblical: Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Comfort others with God’s comfort to you. (Romans 12:15; II Corinthians 1:4)