Keep in mind that the mourning process often takes time, but there are ways that you can support your husband as he works through his feelings surrounding his sibling’s death no matter how long it takes. You don’t have to sit back feeling helpless, watching your husband come to terms with his loss. There are things you can say and do to offer comfort and let your husband know that you’re there for him to help him through this difficult period.
Acknowledge your husband's loss -- and talk about his brother. People will often avoid mentioning the deceased's name because they believe it will bring up painful memories for the family or because they feel helpless or uncomfortable not knowing what to say to make the grieving person feel better, notes the Federal Occupational Health Department. However, not bringing up your deceased brother-in-law can leave your husband feeling alone in his grief. To avoid this, honor your husband's brother and help your husband come to terms with his loss by bringing up good memories and mentioning the things you miss about his brother.
Listen to your husband when he needs to talk about his feelings surrounding this loss. Offer a shoulder on which he can cry and be a sounding board for his hurt and frustration. Let him know you will always be open to talking about his brother, and then allow him to come to you when he needs to have those conversations.
Remain understanding of your husband’s grieving process and remember that there is no right or wrong way to mourn, according to HelpGuide.org, a nonprofit organization. Keep in mind that everyone grieves differently, which means that your husband might not immediately react in the ways that you expect. Give him the time and space he needs to process his loss in his own way, while standing by with love and support. If he's doesn't want to talk about his brother, just spend time with him; for example, he might find it comforting to watch a movie or game together.
Encourage your husband to spend time with other friends and family members as well. Talking about his loss with those who were also close to his brother might help him work through his feelings. You might also encourage him to do something enjoyable with friends to help him get his mind off of his grieving, even if it's only for a few hours.
Help in practical ways by taking over some of the day-to-day household duties so your husband has less on his plate, suggests the FOH. Pick the kids up from school and focus on preparing meals and keeping the household running smoothly. Allow him to rely on you for a little while as he works through his grief.
Be patient and understand that your husband's grief may come in waves, advises Robin Goodman, director of A Caring Hand, The Billy Esposito Foundation Bereavement Center in New York. Keep in mind that even if your husband seems to be doing well for a few months, there could still be lows to come. Assure your husband that he's not alone and that you are always there if he needs to talk. Try to plan something special for his brother’s birthday and the anniversary of his death to honor his loss.
- Suggest that your husband see a doctor if you feel he is experiencing depression. An extended loss of appetite or prolonged insomnia could be signs he needs professional help working through his grief.
Living in Alaska, Leah Campbell has traveled the world and written extensively on topics relating to infertility, dating, adoption and parenting. She recently released her first book, and holds a psychology degree (with an emphasis in child development and abnormal child psychology) from San Diego State University.
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