Dear Wives of Grieving Husbands...
I would like to take a moment to be candid with you. I know you’re hurting. I know you feel immobile, smothered by grief, and drained of all energy. I know at times you probably feel alone in your marriage and in your sorrow. Maybe your husband doesn’t cry around you - but that doesn’t mean he isn't crying. Maybe he just doesn’t seem affected by your loss in the same capacity that your are - but that doesn’t mean he is not affected. Maybe his grief manifests differently than yours - but that doesn’t mean it hurts him any less. Our society has silently told men they are not allowed to grieve. Their job is to fix and to lead and if they show their heart it makes them weak. They are expected to be strong and to hold everything together. Unfortunately, the burden becomes too much and it can - and will- eventually break him. Even if you don't see it - HE IS BROKEN.
Take the time to find out what your husband needs. Even in the middle of all your pain and even when you don’t have the energy, find a way to lift him up. If his family is being distant, call them and set up a time to get together. If his friends aren’t calling him on their own accord, then quietly reach out and ask them to. You know how hard it is for you to find people who are genuinely willing to sit in the sorrow with you? Well, it's ten times harder for your husband. It's easy for us to open up to our close family and friends, but it is not so natural for a man. He needs an outlet. He needs someone besides you to talk to. Do your best to help him find that. Protect him. Protect his heart in the same way he is so desperately trying to protect yours.
There is a good chance your husband feels it is his responsibility to fix you. I know he can't and you know he can't, but he still will search endlessly for a way to take your pain away and a way to put you back together. He will probably put so much focus on your healing and your heart that as a result he will neglect himself. Sometimes it's easier for him to focus on you and put his pain on the back burner, rather than face his own grief. Please don't see his efforts as trying to rush your healing. He just wants you back and is fearful you may never return - that this sorrow will swallow you whole and he may lose you too. It's ok to GENTLY remind him that it is not his job to fix you - that he cannot fix you. Convey to him that if he wants to help you, the best thing he can do is find a way to help his own heart heal in a healthy way.
Don't be naive about the strain the death of a child puts on a a marriage. Emotions are raw, unfiltered and easily riled. Be patient with each other and always forgive. Truth is, who you were has changed in certain ways and now you need to relearn how to navigate each other and become a healthy couple once again. Don't become so preoccupied with your grief that you completely neglect the man you chose to navigate life with. Remember you promised in both sickness and in health that you would never leave his side. Keep true to that promise and do everything you can to protect it.
Pray for him - earnestly. Pray for God to comfort him, heal him, bring supportive people into his life, quicken you to his needs, and give you the strength you need even in the middle of your own pain to provide for him. Encourage him to see a counselor. Reassure him there is nothing wrong with needing help. If he is hesitant to go, offer to take him or go with him - it would honestly be good for you too. Don’t try to force him to open up in the ways that you do. It’s just not in his nature, but don’t let that fact blind you to what he may be struggling with. Trust someone who has been there - someone who thought they were doing enough, but didn’t realize that they weren’t until it was almost too late. Please trust me in this sweet ladies - while blinded by my own struggles and grief, I could have lost the love of my life. I know you have already lost so much. So please, even in this most difficult time - fight for your spouse.
Lastly, thank God everyday for the wonderful man He gave you. God entrusted you to take care of his heart and He will equip you with what you need to do so - you need only ask.