"Women will talk to girlfriends more," Temes says. "I once treated a couple who lost an adult son. The man played poker every Friday night. And he never told them why he missed two sessions. They never asked. The woman missed her mahjong games and when she came back, she said she needed to talk and everyone put away their tiles and cried with her. The community of women is accustomed to talking. The community of men is accustomed to getting on with it."
Josh Bob, who lost his mother to cancer last year, says, "We'd known for months that it was an inevitability, so we were able to begin coping with it before she actually passed away." Knowing it was going to happen didn't make it easier, but Bob says his then-girlfriend helped him come to terms with the loss. It helped that she was studying to be a rabbi and happened to be taking a class about comforting mourners. I Went from Muslim to Jewish For Love
"She was with me during all of that—at the funeral, at the gravesite, during Shiva [the one-week mourning period observed by Jews]," he says. "The thing that she did or said that was most comforting was just being there at the gravesite and holding my hand, letting me know that there was somebody there for me."
So, what do you say to your significant other when they lose (or know they could lose) a close friend or relative? And how do you help them regain their footing after the passing? Everyone experiences grief differently, but here are a few things to remember.
1. Sometimes silence really is golden.
According to Temes, one of the worst things you can say is, "I know just how you feel." As Temes explains, "Each heartache and heartbreak is unique; you really don't know any but your own." Even if you've lost someone you love, you probably don't know exactly what the loss means to them or how they will process it, so don't assume that you do. Ghost Whisperer: What Ghosts Teach Us About Love