5 Ways to Love Your Spouse Through Times of Transition and Grief
Over the past couple of weeks Justin has been asking me to write for our blog. It’s a normal request since we’ve been blogging for several years now. And I’ve tried. With computer open, fingers ready, I’ve tried to put words together. Words of vulnerability and the raw parts of life and marriage but the words just haven’t come.
My rule for writing is this: if my words aren’t written out of a place of overflow then I don’t write them. I’m sure this is a flawed statement to being a writer but even when I’ve attempted to write just for the sake of “getting a blog post up”, the content is often flat. So here I am, week number (I don’t even know because I’ve lost count) trying to make words.
Over the past several months I’ve experienced a lot of raw. It began with Justin resigning his position at Cross Point after six years of being on staff, so we could move to the north side of Indianapolis, Indiana to plant a church. Followed by the tragic death of my four-month-old niece. And in one week will celebrate our oldest son graduating from High School only to take him to college the NEXT DAY!!
So yes, its safe to say I’ve been living a lot of “raw” lately and in the midst of it searching for words to help make sense of it for myself, in hopes to share and inspire you. But I’m still in the thick of it with lumps in my throat from holding back tears which makes it hard to speak and even harder to write. This morning as I spent time in God’s word a glimmer of hope and words finally started to come to mind. And although I’m still in the thick of change, there are lessons I’m learning about how to love in the raw of transition and loss along the way.
Here are 5 ways to love your spouse in the midst of transition and grief.
1. Understand grieving is a gift.
God designed us to grieve. Grieving is the process God has given to us, which, allows us to embrace the reality of what’s taking place in our lives. In order to find healing from the heartaches of life, such as the normal and natural transition of sending a child off to college or the more painful places such as a tragic death, it begins when we stop pretending and allow our hearts and minds to fully feel our loss. It is in the feeling we are able to begin grieving.
2. Don’t take grieving personally.
There are five stages to grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Just as each of us have unique Love Languages; we all grieve at different paces through each stage of grief. When your spouse is angry and lashes out at you, or becomes distant and depressed, the best gift you can give to them is to recognize it for what it is… grief.
Last week I had to meet Justin at our son’s high school to drop a car off for our son. When I arrived at the school and saw the senior parking lot empty I unexpectedly started to sob. When Justin got into my car he kept asking, “are you okay? Did something happen?” and I finally just said “NO! I’m just sad and I need you to give me the space to be sad”. At first I could see his feelings were hurt but when he took a step back and realized I was grieving, he didn’t take it personally and gave me the space I needed.
3. Pray for your spouse.
Transition often means letting go of something in order to embrace something new. Although I feel 100% called to plant a church in Indianapolis, the letting go of my friends, my church family and my life here in Nashville is still so hard. PRAYER has been our anchor!
Prayer has been what has kept God in control and kept us out of the driver seat. Praying for your spouse allows you to find peace in the raw and keeps your eyes set on Jesus, who reminds you that your spouse isn’t the enemy. God created us to be fully known by God and by our spouse and prayer is the pathway to become completely known.
4. Encourage counseling
Although you may be a supportive spouse through a major transition or loss, your spouse still might need to seek the wisdom of a godly counselor. Counseling is a safe place to express the unanswered dark parts of grief and transition. Counselors were never designed to fix your problems but rather set you on a path to find healing from them.
5. Have fun
Go have fun. Get out of the house, go for a walk, go see a funny movie, have life-giving friends over… just do something! If it were up to me I would rather not share my heart and stay closed off from my family, friends and my blogging community. Yes, I’m in the depressed stage of grief. But I’m so thankful for a husband who has pushed me to talk, my boys who keep me laughing and friends who relentlessly love me! I can feel the light of acceptance at the end of the tunnel with every passing smile and moment of laughter. And as I come to accept all the changes about to take place, I am forever grateful to know that grieving is a gift.