How to Grieve as a Couple
Helping each other after losing a family pet can be challenging. Everyone deals with grief differently. It can be volatile and unpredictable. Yet, it can also be silent and vulnerable.
Give it Time for Each Person
It can take a long time to work through pet loss grief. The nature of grief depends on each person’s relationship, experience, and circumstance they had with their beloved companion and family member.
If pet loss was sudden and unexpected, it could leave your partner with a plethora of unresolved feelings, Maybe for you it was an entirely original experience. You and your partner will therefore walk the pet loss journey together but within a different time frame with varying experiences.
Keep in Mind
The journey of pet loss grief for you and your partner is rarely predictable. You may process your grief faster than your partner. And your partner may cope at first and then a few months later their grief hits.
There are many varieties of pet loss grief and it can be tough to support each other.
Grief Can Affect Relationships
If two people are grieving within a relationship, it’s difficult to support each other. You may not have the capacity when your partner is crying because your grief is raw as well. When you are wondering how to grieve as a couple, it may feel extremely difficult.
You may want to help, but you don’t know how. You may feel worried you’re going to say the wrong thing or make the wrong move. Communication can easily shut down, which will heighten the collective grief experience.
Here Are More Challenges
- You may be on the receiving end of your partner’s emotions. For example: Anger—this is an emotion often directed towards someone we are close to.
- You could also struggle to be patient. For example: If grief is taking longer or is stronger than you expected with your partner, you may not be available to support them.
- Your guilt may be skyrocketing. Not only because of your guilt associated with the loss of your companion but you are also trying to support a grieving partner as well. For example: You are struggling to get things right for yourself and your partner. But you don’t feel successful—you then feel guilty.
- You may be ready for a new companion but your partner is not. For example: You feel as it is the perfect time for a new companion as life just isn’t the same without a pet. Yet, your partner can’t imagine replacing the pet that has passed and they feel guilty doing so.
How to Grieve as a Couple
If possible, try to be flexible and empathetic with your partner. Being there for each other takes awareness and communication.
Here are some tips I share with my couples that I coach.
- If you are saturated with your own grief, express to your partner that you need some time. Let them know you need to do so. This way you are exercising self-care so that you can be ready to listen to your partner.
- Regularly check in with your partner to see how they are doing and discuss how you can help each other.
- Communicate effectively. Listen without distractions. Discuss with your partner how you can be there for each other.
How to Grieve as a Couple – A Big Question
When to get another companion? This is a significant question.
Since there are two people involved and you want the best for the new companion that you add to your family—it is important to have patience if your partner is not ready.
This is not to say not to have a discussion and set up a plan. The goal is to support each other and listen to each other when making this decision.
Things to Keep in Mind
- When welcoming another pet into your family, no matter where you or your partner are with grief, this action can trigger feelings of loss that you or your partner thought may have already dealt with. It can challenge the both of you to deal with them on a deeper level, which can be uncomfortable, surprising, and uninvited.
- There is no right or wrong time to bring another pet into your life. It’s really up to both of you. There are some unique and individual things to consider—being sure that you are both truly ready, but there are no hard-and-fast rules for making this decision.
- Try not to make a hasty decision. Give yourself time to grieve and think.
How to Grieve as a Couple Action Steps
Here are three actions steps you can work through as a couple regarding when to get another companion. Each member of the couple should answer these questions separately and then come together and discuss.
- Are you or your partner ready to get another pet now? If so, list the reasons. After making your list, do you still feel you are ready?
- If you or your partner are not ready to welcome another pet into your life now, can you list the reason? Can you change those reasons into positive statements that help you process your feelings of grief?
- How do you or your partner see inviting another pet into your home unfolding? What does that look like? Will you rescue, foster, volunteer, or something else?