Sunday, March 29, 2015

Staying Connected When Your Child Dies

What do you and your spouse do to stay connected when your child dies?

Perhaps you don’t know or understand your spouse well until a tragedy such as this happens. Sure, all couples disagree during the course of a marriage, but this is completely different.\

You will probably find that you and your spouse grieve very differently and at different timelines. That is very common and you should recognize that and learn how to deal with it, but not let it ruin what you have together.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. What is good for one spouse may be completely different for the other. You may want to read every book you can get your hands on. Your spouse may want to attend grief meetings that you may not feel comfortable going to. 

Allow room for individual grief, listen to each other, empathize, and try to come together on the important issues you are facing in your new normal. Along the way expect your grief journey to have both ups and downs and many outside issues can affect your grief such as financial worries, moves or even loss of sexuality.

If you believe a grief counselor might help, try to get the name of a good one in your area; preferably, one who has also lost a child and can relate to you better.

If you are both up to trying to work this out yourselves, first talk about your loss and how each of you is feeling about what happened. Don’t hold back. Cry if you need to, but most importantly, be truthful with one another about how this loss has affected you. It is also important to talk about good times you had with your loved one. Remember funny incidents. Laugh when possible. Laughter has been known to be the best medicine, and it can be healing to take a deep breath and relax.

Each spouse should create a list of coping strategies and share them. Some of them you will both agree with and others, not so much. Take the ones you don’t agree with and try to come up with some fresh ideas that might help. You will probably be surprised with how many you agree with and thought you would not, and with the others, you may have to change and/or compromise and try some new techniques to get through the hard times.

We used to take grief and hide it under the table. It didn’t exist for some. Better to forget or worse, pretend it didn’t happen. But since many grief books are out there now explaining that it is okay to grieve in your own way and for as long as you need to, couples can take that first step to healing by trying to understand each other’s viewpoint and feelings.

...more information next week on this topic

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