Grieving the Death of a Spouse or Significant Other

November 5, 2018

Death, regardless of the details, is capable of devastating those it leaves behind. Brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, or father – all losses are significant. Although commonalities exist amongst people who have experienced a certain type of loss, individual grief is as unique as the person experiencing it and their relationship with the person who died.

 

While we are hesitant to categorize and careful not to compare, we do acknowledge that there’s merit in recognizing commonalities.  Shared experiences tell us, if nothing else, that we are not the only ones. And if other people have had struggles similar to our own, then maybe our grief isn’t as crazy as it sometimes seems.

 

Today we want to discuss some of the reasons why grieving the death of a spouse, fiancé, girlfriend, boyfriend, or significant other is difficult. We aren’t going to tell you how to grieve these losses, because we don’t really believe ‘type’ of loss dictates a certain way of coping. However, we do know that these types of losses can present very specific barriers, stumbling blocks, and secondary losses.

 

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One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII

BY PABLO NERUDA - TRANSLATED BY MARK EISNER

 

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,   

or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:   

I love you as one loves certain obscure things,   

secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

 

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries   

the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,   

and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose   

from the earth lives dimly in my body.

 

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,   

I love you directly without problems or pride:

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,

except in this form in which I am not nor are you,   

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,   

so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

 

 

Pablo Neruda, “One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII” from The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems,edited by Mark Eisner.

Copyright © 2004 City Lights Books.

 

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© 2017-2020 by Natalie D'Annibale, PsyD, LMFT