If your husband loses his mother, it can be a difficult period in your relationship. You may struggle with what to say and may worry that what you're saying is the wrong thing. However, more important than your actual words is conveying your support -- letting your husband know that you're by his side to help him get through this emotional time with whatever he needs from you.
Express Your Sympathy
A simple, "I'm sorry," can go a long way. Tone is everything -- so ensure that you sound supportive and caring when expressing your sympathies to your husband. A gentle touch of his hand or his shoulder will reiterate that you are sorry for his loss and that you care about his feelings. Avoid saying, "I understand," because you can't understand another person's feelings during the grieving process since all people process death and loss differently. Sometimes when people grieve, they don’t even know how they feel -- so don't pretend you do, notes Nancy Berns, author of "Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What It Costs Us" in a Prevention.com article.
Tell your husband that you are there to listen to him if he needs to talk -- no matter when he needs to talk. Keep in mind that people who are grieving may need to tell the story about the actual death, or tell a story about the person who died, over and over again. This is part of the healing process. If you husband does this, just say, "It's OK," and offer a warm touch. If you went through a similar loss, you might want share your own experience if you think it would help, notes HelpGuide.org.
Ask Him What He Needs
Simply asking your husband what he needs from you -- whether it's a hug, or even time alone to think -- is essential to help him get through this time. Be supportive of his needs and try to accommodate his grieving process. Realize that he might have a hard time expressing what he feels or needs from you. If that's the case, use cues instead of words to help determine his needs. For example, if he walks away, he may need space. If he cries, he may need you to you to hold his hand. Also keep in mind that he might need you to take care of some practical matters such as contacting a lawyer or gathering his mother's things from the hospital. Offer to help him in anyway you can.
Tell Him There's No Rush
Grief can take varying amounts of time and is different for each person and situation. If your husband was particularly close to his mom, it could take months or years for your husband to get through the grieving process. Let your husband know that he can take his time and that you'll support him through the process, no matter how long it takes. Be patient, as losing a parent is a life-changing event that is hard to process
Jennifer Oster holds a Bachelor of Arts in social sciences from Louisiana State University and is also a certified lactation counselor. An expert in the field of infant and maternal nutrition, she began writing professionally in 2005 and has been featured in many nationally acclaimed magazines.