Know how to assist spouses who grieve

By Marian Christiana

In May, a dear friend of ours lost her 15-month battle with cancer. Eileen and her husband, Paul, had been married for 30 years. We have been friends with Paul since we were teenagers and we continue to try to support him as much as possible.

Sometimes it is hard to know how to be a comfort to him. All of us have had a friend or family member whose life has been turned upside down by divorce, separation or the death of a spouse. Sometimes, because of the difficulty of such situations, we tend to avoid their pain and gloss over their suffering.

“Marriage, Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter on marriage, reminds us that through our marriages we are called to bring Christ’s love for his Church out into the world. This month let’s consider that when we comfort the grieving. We, as married couples, truly reflect Christ’s love to others.

Here are a few suggestions to consider:

    • Begin by praying for your friend. As Bishop Richard F. Stika stated in his July column “…praying for the living … is no less a work of mercy than giving drink to the thirsty is, or food to the hungry.”
    • Listen to them. Don’t try to fix things, don’t make a lot of suggestions, and don’t start relating your personal situation to theirs; just listen to them.
    • Get them out of their house. Invite them to share a meal or attend a movie with you. No pressure, no deep discussions, just spend time with them.
    • Don’t rush them through the healing process. Mourning is essential to healing.
    • One suggestion to consider, though, is giving the person information about a Beginning Experience Weekend. This weekend program is designed to help those that are grieving move steadily into the future with renewed hope. The next Beginning Experience weekend in our diocese is scheduled Oct. 5-7 at the Alex Haley Farm in Clinton.

For more information about the weekend go to:


Mrs. Christiana is coordinator of the diocesan Marriage Preparation and Enrichment Office.


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