Patti's Blog

How to help your loved one through loss


I am beyond sad at the loss of Joan Rivers. She was such a force of nature and someone I admired a ton. She did so much to impact comedy, entertainment and personal branding. She was a trailblazer and a true class act. The outpouring of love and respect for Joan online is only a fraction of what she deserves. If the world stopped spinning for a full minute, that honestly wouldn’t be enough of a tribute for this renaissance woman. My career wouldn’t be what it is today without her opening doors the way she did every second until she passed away, and I couldn’t be more grateful to her. I am in mourning over her death and it got me thinking about how you can help your loved one through a tragic loss. Going through loss as a couple can be one of the most bonding or breaking trials for a couple. Here are some tips on getting through it in as constructive way as possible.

Don’t Tell Your Partner How To Feel

One of my least favorite expressions in the world is, “Don’t cry.” Um, like I have a choice? Trust me, if I could pick “crying” or “not crying,” I’d pick not crying. But, guess what? I’m crying and I’m dealing with it and you have to too. Let your partner feel whatever he or she needs to feel and react in whatever way makes sense at the moment. Don’t tell them what you think they should do or feel or think about their loss. Even if you’ve experienced a similar loss, there’s no way you can know how they’re processing their emotions. Just be there to listen and support, not direct.


Ask What Your Partner Wants

Like everything else in a relationship, getting through loss with a partner involves open communication. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner what he or she needs from you or what you can be doing to make things easier for them. They might not know at first, but keep asking regularly and you’ll get some direction from them. Sometimes it’s space, sometimes it’s distraction, it might be help finding a therapist or planning a funeral. Their needs are going to change as they move through the stages of grief. So, check in often and be ready to pivot what you’re doing to accommodate your partner the best way possible.


Expect Aftershocks

A friend of mine was dating a man when a close friend of his died very unexpectedly. It was so tragic. She told me that she thought that getting through the funeral meant that the worst of it was done for her boyfriend. He’d gotten through the first part of dealing with the death of his friend and it would only get easier from there. She later realized she was so, so wrong. He had years of tough grieving ahead of him and a lot of it was harder for him to stomach than going to the funeral. Grief isn’t always forward moving and, in fact, it’s often a two steps forward, one step back process. There’s no predicting emotions and know that for months after the initial loss, there’s going to be some unpredictable and very intense emotions brewing. Just be ready to be supportive at all times and let your partner know that you’re always there to talk, listen or support in any way they need.

I’m so sorry if you’re going through loss right now. My heart is with you! Sending you all the love I can!

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