I'm not sure how to help, am winging it at the moment. She died when he was 8yo and at the time he says he bottled it all up, didn't talk about her at all, family were concerned but he continued doing ok at school etc so nothing was 'done'
DHs dad has just given him a load of letters that his mother wrote and they are opening some floodgates - I just need some advice of how to support him; at the moment I'm just hugging and crying with him which is not terribly helpful
I've no experience of this sorry but I think hugging and crying with him is the perfect thing to do. Sometimes there is no quick fix or solution and just being there in the moment, loving him and allowing him to express all of his feelings, and talk about it when he needs to might be all he needs.
Hugging and crying sounds good. 'Normal' grief, whatever that is, takes about 2 years to process. When it has been stuck in a box and not allowed to take it's course then it will come out in all sorts of ways and if it helps to talk then let him talk; if he doesn't then respect that. It may be worth contacting CRUSE to see if they have any good advice and if he is very angry with people for making him bottle stuff up then having a safe and neutral place to speak that out may be worth looking at.
It is early days yet and it sounds like you are responding to what he needs with empathy and care.
If he needs some sort of ritual to help him mark his mother's death then many churches have a service of remembrance around 1st November which is All Souls Day which may help.
You're absolutely doing the right thing by just being there, hugging and listening to him. Even if he wants to say the same things over and over again. I know it doesn't seem like it, but it's a good thing.
Its not totally the same but my Dad had a breakdown at 60, when his old family house came up for sale and he became obsessed about buying it. It was all a bit strange as they hadn't planned on moving. After a few weeks of my mum questioning him the floodgates opened and he let fly an incredible abusive story of neglect and abandonment by his mum and his dad. This house was where he'd always been promised he would return to and never did.
My mum was upset. They have been together for 45 years and she knew nothing of it. We knew he was brought up by his gran (who was a horrid woman too) but he's never explained.
He did a lot of talking and crying with my mum. Eventually he came through it.....and they bought the house and have been really happy there
So sorry for your DH and the little 8 yr old boy inside him xx