Sunday, December 22, 2013

Impact of Grief on Marriages

Many parents, who have gone through divorce after their child’s death, are unaware of the following figures: only 16 percent of marriages where a child dies ends in divorce. (It is not 90 percent as some parents believe.) Of that 16 percent, only 4 percent is because of the death, the rest is because their was something wrong with the marriage in the first place.

Couples who believe their marriage is shakey should look for signs of trouble and try to do something about them to avoid the divorce pitfall after a child’s death.

** Keep the communication channels open between spouses. Don’t hide in a corner or curl up in a ball and cry by yourself. You are sad. You are broken. Talk to your spouse about your feelings and allow your spouse to openly talk also. You may find you feel the same about some things and different about others. That’s okay. No one grieves the same, even husbands and wives.

**Be understanding about the course of your grief. Some parents take years to get through their grief journey. Be patient with each other as you both travel that long road.

**Talk about the child. Remember the good times you all had both together and separately with the child and discuss them. Don’t be upset if one parent smiles or laughs about something related to the child. It’s okay. They are not betraying the child or you to have a good moment.

**Recognize that you both will change when a child dies and that your grief, your duration of mourning, and integrating the changes will help in this crisis and bring you closer together. Allow separate mourning when necessary and be respectful of each other’s grief.

**Express your grief openly and don’t keep it bottled up inside because you are afraid to show how much you cared or you are embarrassed to show your emotions.

**Learn a new way to relate to others as a couple now that your child is dead. What you once did together, you can no longer do. Try something new that fits into your life now without your child. When you see other parents and their children together, it will definitely hurt, but you will need to find ways slowly to integrate all these new changes into your marriage and into the rest of your life.

**As a couple, look for some new meaning to your life, something perhaps that you have thought about doing in the future. Now is the time to do it. Look for some good to come out of your tragic loss. Perhaps you have always wanted to get closer family connections to those who don’t live in your city. Or you might have always enjoyed teaching others to paint and may want to go back to school and become an art teacher.

There are so many ways to improve your relationship with your spouse and move forward. Don’t dismiss any of these or other suggestions well-meaning individuals may give you to bring joy back into your life and your marriage.