Often spouses grieve differently.
In those early days, I talked about it a lot. And cried a lot. Often at the end of the day. Ron rarely mentioned it. One night, as we were heading to bed, I said to my husband, “You don’t mention Andrew or talk about The Accident very much.”
He answered, “No. No, I don’t. I don’t want to talk about my son being dead. I don’t want to talk about The Accident. I don’t like thinking about any of it!” He sweetly added, “But I’m willing to listen any time you want to talk about it.”
I was grateful for his answer. It helped me understand what he was thinking and feeling. And it showed his love for me.
In return, I learned to not talk about it so often. I learned to take my thoughts to God in prayer before talking to my husband. And many times the conversation with God was enough.
I also found a support group where I could post some of my thoughts and started journaling and blogging.
The times I did talk to my husband, I was more sensitive to him and his feelings. I tried to not bring it up just before bed, for example. I had noticed that, though it might help me sleep better, he had more trouble sleeping after we talked about Andrew or his death right before bed.
I also realized he was dealing with things I wasn’t. Ron faced some harder stuff that I didn’t. He called our adult children living out of town the morning of The Accident to tell them their brother was dead. He saw Andrew’s face where the truck hit, I didn’t. He cleaned out Andrew’s apartment with our other three sons while the girls and I stayed home and worked on gathering pictures for the slide show and greeting all the visitors.
Sometimes our spouses have images and thoughts they need to process before talking. Ron did. Patience and respect is required.
Over time, we found a good balance. And he started sharing his own thoughts and feelings more. I talked and shared less. I listened more.
One night, just before turning out the light, I saw a new-to-us video of Andrew dancing for one of his finals. His dance partner had posted it on Facebook. I shared it with Ron, and we spent the next thirty minutes watching various videos of them dancing. We laughed and shared stories. We both slept peacefully that night.
Now, two and a half years later, we are able to talk freely about the whole thing, though we rarely discuss The Accident or the immediate aftermath. We laugh at stories from Andrew’s life. We are sometimes sad together. Sometimes a billboard or FB post will remind us of the way life was when we had seven children at home, and we sit quietly together lost in our own thoughts.
We have learned that though we grieve differently, we can grieve together.