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To be expecting more from my grieving husband?

(115 Posts)
watermelon55 Thu 17-Oct-19 18:22:04

I’m really trying to find out whether I’m being unfair, or expecting too much of my husband. Over the last year both of my husband’s parents have died, one of them after a short illness, and the other suddenly a few months later. My husband had a good relationship with them and has obviously been devastated. During the illness he talked quite openly about how he felt, we were both very sad and I felt that it would be hard but that we would help each other, and our kids, through it. I have experienced the loss of a close family member so I understand how painful grief is.

However, he has not been able to talk about how he feels at all. He started off by saying that he feels numb, and I felt that he was still processing the shock and had buried all the pain, but a bit more time has passed and I had thought that he may start to find it easier to express how he feels, or at least attempt to put this into words. However, it still seems just as hard as when they had both just died. He says he thinks about them but doesn’t get upset.

I feel like he has shut all his emotions away, as he also finds it difficult to relate to anyone else’s emotions. If I talk to him about how I feel he doesn’t really respond, I find this hard, as it’s difficult to talk about for me, and so when I get nothing back in response I just wish I’d not said anything. He can’t really understand how our children are feeling either. Getting him to discuss anything where emotions are involved is really difficult, it’s almost like it’s a foreign language to him.

We both work, we have children and so our lives are busy, days and weeks will go past without there being the opportunity to talk about anything more than who’s picking up who and who’s paid the bills, etc. I completely get that that is the reality of family life. But I love him and care about him and feel that I should try to help him, and try to get him to deal with things and talk about things. I also feel that I should be trying to help our relationship and so I will bring the subject up after a bit of time has passed. This is always really hard, as he is defensive and will deflect my questions or focus on small details that are not really important. I always end up regretting that I’ve tried, and it just reminds me that he’s got everything so bottled up and he hasn’t really begun to deal with what has happened to him.

I understand that everyone deals with grief differently and if I felt that the way he was dealing with it was enabling him to gradually move forward then I would respect that, but I feel he is stuck and it is seriously affecting our relationship. He says he feels ‘flat’, and when he describes how he feels it sounds like depression. He can’t get enthusiastic or excited about things. We have no sex life and this as well as getting no emotional input from him, has made me feel lonely and un-loved.

I want to help him, but feel like I'm not, and am losing hope.

Purpleartichoke Thu 17-Oct-19 18:26:27

My mom died last year and it was devastating. My husband gave me space to collapse for those first few days which is what I needed. Then he listened when I felt the need to bring it up. He never once tried to make me talk about it. That would have been horrible.

I still have moments where it hits me, but they are getting more sporadic and are easier to deal with. Mostly at times when I really which I could call her about something. My DH lets me talk to him if I need to, but mostly in those moments, I just need him to take charge of whatever is happening in family life so I can have a few minutes of privacy.

Fallofrain Thu 17-Oct-19 18:32:21

I agree with poster above. His grief is his. You can't force somrone to discuss it and not all people find talking helpful. His process might be very different to yours

Be there, be present but listen to him. That includes listening to him when he says he doesnt want to talk about it.

If his grief is really affecting your life, then discuss it from that point of view eg. I really miss you holding my hand.

Drum2018 Thu 17-Oct-19 18:36:27

Im sure your Dh knows your are available to talk to. He may just not want to. I have a similar situation in that my parents died just over a year apart - one sudden and one after illness. I've hardly cried, I don't talk about them a lot, I do think about them but don't get upset. The way I see it that wouldn't change the fact they are dead. It may be a cold way to look at it but I suppose I too feel numb to it all and that's just my way of coping. If your Dh is clearly depressed and not engaging with you about other issues then I'd advise him to get counselling, but if he's just not engaging about the death of his parents then I suggest leaving him to deal with his grief in his own way.

youwouldthink Thu 17-Oct-19 18:36:33

There are so many 'I.s' in your post.
Everybody deals with grief in their way and you deciding when he needs to open up and discuss with you is unfair.
With respect this is not about you. Its about your husband and him trying to come to terms with what he is feeling.
It took me quite some time after losses to be able to articulate what I was feeling as it took time for me to process myself.
You need to let him know you're there but stop pushing

Gazelda Thu 17-Oct-19 18:37:41

He's had a shocking 12 months. I'm not surprised he's acting how he is. People grieve differently, and at different paces.

However, that's not helpful to your relationship, nor is it helping you to support your DC. Are they handling things OK? Might it be helpful for them to get a short stint of grief counselling?

And have you tried tackling things from a different perspective? Tell him you feel the marriage is suffering at the moment (without mentioning his bereavements). Ask him to help you get things back on track as you're worried about drifting further apart. Tell him the marriage is important to you and you need his help to rebuild it. Don't let him feel his grieving is the cause of the marital problems.

SilverySurfer Thu 17-Oct-19 18:56:25

I understand that everyone deals with grief differently

I don't think you do actually. Your husband is dealing with the death of his parents in the only way he knows. The result of that sounds difficult for you but I don't think you can force him to change how he copes with it.

1forAll74 Thu 17-Oct-19 19:07:28

Why can't you just allow your Husband,to deal with things in his own way. Not everyone will see things the way that you do.

Your Husband will feel down and upset about his losses,but that doesn't mean he is depressed, and he will probably feel much better as time passes.

pawsies Thu 17-Oct-19 19:33:38

There's a group on Facebook called Parent loss grief support group.

That's helped me a lot. Maybe suggest he looks at it and he might decide to post amongst people going through a similar thing?

Andysbestadventure Thu 17-Oct-19 19:39:14

It's your husband's grief to deal with how he feels is best, not yours. Leave the poor sod alone FFS.

Gingaaarghpussy Thu 17-Oct-19 19:43:23

See my post in bereavement.

Leave him alone to grieve.

FiveGoMadInDorset Thu 17-Oct-19 19:47:40


Jeezoh Thu 17-Oct-19 19:48:29

I agree, there’s too many I’s in your post. Let him deal with it in the way that is right for him.

saraclara Thu 17-Oct-19 19:49:18

I didn't talk about my grief after my husband died at all. I didn't find it helpful, I just got on with life as best I could. I thought I was coping well, but when I look back, I made a lot of poor decisions and clearly I wasn't myself. But it was the only way I knew to deal with it, and if anyone had nagged me to talk it would have been counter-productive.

I do understand that it's making life hard for you. But I think if you need to talk to him about difficulties on your marriage and home life, as someone else said, focus on them specifically rather than making it about his losses.

Windygate Thu 17-Oct-19 19:50:17

Grief is a very personal journey. For me it was a very selfish and painful experience. I lost a parent and a step-parent within six weeks of each other.
I couldn't talk about it then and don't want to now.
I'm okay at supporting DC and I appreciate DH's silent support more than I can explain.
I doubt that I will ever want to talk about 'it'.

ThighThighOfthigh Thu 17-Oct-19 19:51:58

I couldn't bear someone trying to get me to talk about my grief. It's his, not yours. His parents, not yours.

Gingaaarghpussy Thu 17-Oct-19 19:52:22

Oh, and yabu

springydaff Thu 17-Oct-19 19:53:34

You can't intellectualise grief, it's not logical for a start. There's no law against feelings

I've recently lost a close family member and, although sudden, it was expected in a way. Nevertheless I've been practically mute and even feel quite irritated that somewhere along the line I'm going to have to process the tidal wave. Or maybe not. I have no idea how it's going to go, how I'm going to feel, or when.

I've not really experienced shocking bereavement but I can't help thinking he's lost both his parents, both unexpectedly and quite suddenly, within the last year. I think it's going to be quite a while before he even begins to thaw - I'm talking years.

I do think you're being unreasonable to expect him to process things in the way you would. I appreciate it's lonely for you though - yes, that's tough.

Spudlet Thu 17-Oct-19 19:54:52

DH lost his Mum a couple of years ago now. He is also one who prefers not to talk. The only time I can think of that he cried was after he got the phone call to say she’d gone.

All you can do is let him know you are there, you love him, and if he wants to talk, you’re ready. But it’s ok not to want to as well.

DH listens to a podcast called Griefcast. I know he finds it really helpful.

It’s hard because you want to take their pain away. But you can’t. All you can do is make sure they know they’re loved and wait for them to find their own way through. flowers

Bellringer Thu 17-Oct-19 19:59:03

It can take 3-5 years to feel you have dealt with a significant loss.
You can have couple counselling, or go alone. If dh is really depressed, gp or cruse. He is doing his best, cut him some slack.
Winstons wish do great work with bereaved children and their families

kalinkafoxtrot45 Thu 17-Oct-19 19:59:34

Some people grieve openly and others need space and peace to do this. Feeling numb and sad and depressed is part of this. I’m that way too and I absolutely hate and resent anyone pressing me to talk about my feelings in these situations. Be kind and patient and let him be.

Alsohuman Thu 17-Oct-19 20:00:32

Poor man. I lost both my parents six months apart and it was agony. I didn’t want to talk about it, I just wanted time and space to process it. I was very lucky, my husband gave me that. If he’d pestered me to talk about it, I think I’d have punched him.

It took me a couple of years to start feeling like myself again. Please cut him some slack.

pooopypants Thu 17-Oct-19 20:00:35

You're making his loss, his grief and the processing of that, about you.

Take a step back OP.

alltoomuchrightnow Thu 17-Oct-19 20:04:04

Poor man

Sleepinglemon Thu 17-Oct-19 20:05:39

When my mum died I was numb for a long time. My brain could not compute the fact that she had gone and she was never coming back. It's really strange because I obviously knew that to be true, but my brain wouldn't fully acknowledge it somehow. So I couldn't really talk about it even though I usually am someone who opens up emotionally. There was also a fear that if I did start to engage with my feelings they would overwhelm me, so that probably stopped me talking too. It took time. A lot of time. And DH never rushed me. He was patient and understanding, he had no expectations of how I should be, and he was there when I was ready.

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