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What to Say to an Ex-Husband When His Mother Dies

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Many people don’t know what to say when a friend loses a parent. It can be particularly difficult to know what to do when your ex loses his mom, especially if your relationship with her wasn’t warm or you and your ex have a strained relationship. Do your best to lay aside any rancor as you offer comfort to your ex.

Grieving Your Mother-In-Law

His mom was once your mother-in-law; if your relationship was close, you may also need to grieve. You might say that you know he loved his mom and will miss her. If you will miss her too, feel free to tell him how much you cared for her. Listen compassionately if he wants to talk, suggests the HelpGuide website article “Supporting a Grieving Person.” Share some of your positive memories if he mentions that his mom cared for you

Your Chlidren's Grandmother

If you have children together, offer to be with your ex when he tells the kids that Grandma has died. He might appreciate your assistance when it comes to the children’s grief. Ask about the funeral or memorial service arrangement so the kids can attend if they wish. Offer to be flexible with scheduled visitation days if he needs some time to deal with the responsibilities that often accompany a parent’s death, such as making service arrangements and supporting the remaining parent. Your compassion could make dealing with the death a little easier.

Emotional Support

Offer your ex some emotional support if he will accept it. You might give him a strong hug, hold his hand or, if you loved his mom, cry with him. If faith is part of his life and yours, offer to pray for and with him during this difficult time. Acknowledge his grief and make allowances if he is short with you or has trouble handling his emotions. Tell him you will be happy to accompany him as moral support while he handles phone calls and other details.

Additional Support

You can offer your ex some of the same comfort measures you would offer a friend, such as preparing a meal he can warm up later, running errands or handling other tasks that need doing, suggests Lori Pederson, founder of IDidNotKnowWhattoSay.com, in a "Woman’s Day" article entitled “9 Things Not to Say to Someone Who’s Grieving.” If he wants to maintain the regular visitation schedule, you might bring a meal when you bring the kids so he doesn’t have to concern himself with that aspect of the visit. Bring pictures and offer to help build a collage memorial to his mom and your children’s grandmother.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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