I've read the posts here. Thank you all for responding
I suspect this is nothing to do with compassion, as a few of you suggest. Maybe in the distant past (maybe even lives before this) I must have developed such a strong sense of indifference towards death (or life) that I'm still working through that vipaka. Yes, it is frustration. Frustration that I'm unable to be empathetic or even sympathetic about death, even with the woman I love. It's frustration because I have the desire (cue 4NT alarm bells) to comfort her.
I just don't understand grieving. I'm obviously going to the attending the funeral. Between now and when that's over I'm sure to be presented with myriad opportunities to address my indifference and try to turn it around.
Maybe I'm conflating the problem with compassion because I've recently decided to really work towards developing the bramhaviharas and this incident shows how many near enemies (like indifference and pity) I fall into. Practice practice practice.
Anyway, thank you all for answering. I need a little time to digest it all and see if I can improve the situation for my wife.
Yes, it is frustration. Frustration that I'm unable to be empathetic or even sympathetic about death, even with the woman I love. It's frustration because I have the desire (cue 4NT alarm bells) to comfort her.
Maybe you think comforting somebody is a hard task, and indeed, the Buddha describes this well when he talks about death in the Dhammapada.
He describes how we have to go through illness and death alone, and no son, no wife can help us to escape.
All we can do is be there for somebody suffering, to accompany.
So all you can do is give her your time and lend your ear. Let her lean on your shoulder while she's weeping and just listen to her.
Maybe you can speak some dhamma to her, about impermanence.
She probably had a close connection to her grandfather and will miss him.
A part of our pain will always deal with the own loss, not only with the suffering of the loved one.
I just don't understand grieving.
Do you think you would grieve your wife's death?
If yes, perhaps work from there, try to put yourself into her situation.
Imagine you lost your grandfather, or somebody you care about very much.
It doesn't mean you have to suffer, but to understand what is going on inside of others.