Helping Your Wife Grieve or Lament

I was just reminded earlier guys also make sure you’re getting in the Facebook group. Make sure you search Five Minute Fatherhood or go in description of our YouTube videos to chat about this because this was actually the question we have for today has come from our Facebook community as have a lot of them that we talk about. Now today is how to help your wife grieve through or walk through a loss. Now, me and Jeremy both have something specific in mind that I know what he’s going to talk about and he knows what I’m going to talk about. But it’s something that no matter how it plays out is deeply, deeply sensitive and important, I think as the husband and the father of the home to really know how to nurture and step into that and not be distant and all these different things. But yeah, maybe tell about the one you were going to talk about and you guys walked through that.

Yeah. I want to give you guys a specific tool. And I think it’s important because a dynamic that happens with a lot of marriages is that the husband maybe isn’t feeling the grief at the same level. And this could because your wife is just feeling it more deeply or because maybe the loss is happening more in her side of the family. Where this happened to us most dramatically was when April’s dad died, which was super sad for me and I was really grieving. But obviously it’s her dad. And so this was incredibly devastating to her. And so how do you grieve? Grief is really, it’s a funky thing. It comes in waves, it’s unpredictable, it’s got to be processed out. There’s so many unhealthy ways to deal with grief. Repressing it is not a good idea. And you want to be there for your wife.

And so one thing we did, which is a little weird, but it really was important for April, was we actually scheduled times to grieve together. And so we actually, we got some books about grieving and then we would just read these books until she started to grieve. And that didn’t take usually one or two pages and it would trigger just a lot of grief. And then we would just spend that time together, holding her, letting her work through that, letting her process that and not saying, “Okay, aren’t you done with this yet?” Our culture doesn’t have really clear boundaries for grief. One of the things we found really helpful was in Jewish culture, if a parent dies, it’s the most serious grieving process and they spend a year grieving. Every single Sabbath they’ll do a process of grieving with their community.

And so what we did on all of our Sabbath dinners for an entire year was we paused before the dinner and we would ask, “Does, did anybody have any memories that triggered? How was your week? How are you thinking about Grandpa Don?” Or, “April, how’re you thinking about your dad?” For an entire year we did this. And I think it was really important and at the end of the year we kind of put some closure to that. But that’s one way to think about it is to make sure that you’re not trying to speed your wife through a grieving process. But have you guys encountered and dealt with this?

And so we’ve walked through something similar with a miscarriage, I think about a year ago. And that one is a little different in the sense of that’s obviously something we’re both responsible for, not just a parent of one side. But it’s the same thing in the sense of we’re still both a unified team. You guys are a unified team. And so when one person feels something, you feel something, and I think in some level a miscarriage still affects the wife, obviously in a more kind of traumatic, serious, tangible way being the one who’s actually carrying the baby.

And so that was something, that was probably the first real thing that we had to walk through that was really a hard and really difficult, really traumatic. And so it’s like a learning process of how to, I think what I learned is I have to be really not only sensitive to the space for grieving, but then also understand how does Alyssa grieve and how does she lament and how does she process and what actually serves her in these moments. Is it just to listen? Is it to offer some encouragement? And so I feel really studying your wife and understanding how she processes emotionally can be really, really huge.

And so you have to be kind of paying attention and actually focusing in on that and leaning in on the spirit of God is what I would say. And just making sure that you’re not just kind of going on. I think it’s very easy sometimes for husbands, sometimes I don’t know why, just be a little more emotionally distant, a little bit more distracted, a little bit more somewhere else or think it’s going to be a one stop fix or something and it’s just not. And so that’s what I would say.

And then give space for or realize that we are in a tradition where we’re in a historical tradition in Christianity of having an enormous space for lament and actually having an enormous practices for lament and all these different things. And just I think the Western evangelical church doesn’t do a good job of that, but we are part of a very long tradition that actually has a lot of mechanisms that you can look up and a lot of actually operations and practices and tools and tips to actually step into the lament.

And even the actual classic worship book, the Psalms, is like 60% lament or 65% lament. When I think if you turned on Christian radio you’d hear 0% lament. So that’s modern worship versus past worship. That’s really interesting, that one is significantly full of lament and one isn’t. So I know that really brought us solace and really brought us encouragement is realizing, okay, this is kind of very much a normal part of the human condition and Jesus and the Scriptures is actually offer a lot of space to do this in a really helpful, healthy way.

And so that’s what I would encourage you dad’s out there, you fathers out there, husbands out there of if you’re walking with your spouse in something like this, I would say just lean into it. Don’t run away from it. Don’t try to turn away from it. Don’t try to make it quick, but actually lean into the space of lament and actually be the architect of creating that space for your home, for your family, for your spouse. And that is a really, really huge thing I would say.

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