Grief Is Messy

On March 20th my mother in law was placed on hospice. She passed away the day before Mother’s Day on May 9th. My family and I had assumed that since I have been a hospice chaplain for 22 years, a marriage coach, grief counselor and pastor that I would be adequately prepared to help my wife and family though this crisis. After all, I had walked with hundreds of families down this similar path and have been used to help keep other marriages together in their seasons of grief…. I have counseled grieving people to lean into their grief, don’t let anyone rush you, give yourself permission to be sad for as long as you need. I remind them that they hurt so badly because they loved so deeply.

I counsel marriage partners not to rush their spouses through the grief process. Be present to your spouse and don’t try to fix them. So I should have been well prepared for this loss. The truth is I was not. My wife has grieved as a women who absolutely adored her mom. She continues to grieve as she has lost her closest women best friend, her confidant and her parental rock. She is clearly grieving appropriately. But sometimes I find myself thinking, “Do you have to cry right now?” or “When is this going to be over?” I sometimes find myself thinking, “I just want my old Cathy back”. But then I catch myself. I know that this is grief, this is part of it, and for Cathy things will never be the same.

This new reality has me on edge and to be honest I have surprised myself with my own reactions. I am blessed because I can talk to Cathy about these feelings of inadequacy in terms of how I handle her in the midst of her grief. Added to this quandary are my own feelings of loss for this woman who was very special to me. So here is the bottom line, Grief is messy and it impacts your marriage. It is the most difficult thing we have walked through together. We know we are going to make it, our marriage is not in a crisis, it is strong but for this season it has been different. The one thing I do know is that as we keep our connection, keep putting love first, our marriage will continue to be phenomenal.

It has been awhile since I have posted. I continue to do day long intensives and individual coaching sessions with individuals. The goal of St. Louis Marriage Coaching is to help 1 million people save their marriages. I will be re-launching the St. Louis Marriage Coaching digital newsletter in June and will begin posting weekly. Thank you so much for your kindness and patience during our season of loss.