When our daughter died, that was the one thing I heard OVER and OVER. That very few marriages make it after a child death. I was so nervous, and I wondered if that would be us.
It is so so difficult. The whole process of grief, and emotional roller coaster you are riding is all so new. I have learned that females and males really do grieve differently. It’s so hard to understand where your spouse is coming from is they seem to be doing it differently.
We recieved a book called “Tear Soup” from another couple who had lost their baby not too long before us. The book talks a lot about the different ways of grieving, and that no one does it the same. I would have to say that that’s especially true for males and females.
One time, we were leaving the cemetary, and I asked my husband why he didn’t care? He was pretty offended. He did care, it just didn’t show on his face like mine did. My grief has been very visible, very open for anyone to hear. While his grief is very hidden. I can honestly say I do not know a ton. He talks to me every once in a while, but I can guarantee I do not know every thought he has. Nor does he feel the need to voice it. I am forever grateful when someone asks him, and he wants to open up to them a little bit about grief. I have let go of the notion that it has to be me that he talks to. I would love it, and I do every time he talks to me about his grief. But I’m really happy that he’s just talking, even if it’s not with me.
That example at the cemetary was not the only time it happened. There were so many things that felt so foreign for both of us. We both responded in a different way, and it’s really hard to understand when that’s not your way of responding.
No matter what, it seems like your relationship will be on the rocks after a death. Your world just got turned upside down, and both you and your spouse are trying to figure out how to continue onward with your child. I believe that if you struggle through, and try to understand the different ways of grieving, you can keep your marriage. It’s incredibly important to make time for each other, especially now. Spending time together, even if it doesn’t alwayas feel so loving and amazing, can help you feel connected in some small way.
We certainly struggled a lot for sure our first year. I had very bad PTSD and it was difficult to be a loving wife. My husband even told me that he was having a hard time loving me. But he did not leave me. Those feelings can leave for a while, and they can return if you continue to work on your marriage and cultivate and grow your relationship.
Blame can also be a huge issue between spouses if there seems to be something to blame. Those are feeling and thoughts that really need to be worked on and talked about. Shoving them away and hiding them, or going to the other extreme and screaming about them is not going to help your marriage. Since I believe that God ultimately is in control, it’s easier to not blame but it’s still a very real emotion and thought. It’s important to acknowlege that and get help through therapy. I want to say that this can take time.
There are all sorts of feelings of guilt with death. It doesn’t really matter how or when your child died, everyone involved will in some way have a sense of guilt. We seem to think that we could have done something else or changed something so that there would have been a different outcome. Feel those emotions, but don’t let them consume you. Let yourself acknowledge them to work through them. I believe that there was nothing in my control that I could have done to save my daughter. That she would have still died. Yet, I felt lots of guilt over many things related to her death.
I want to instill hope into people that if you just dig through the hard parts, figure out how to work together, forgive and move forward, your marriage can be stronger and better than before. It’s so sad to me if you lose you child, and then on top of that lose your marriage. Your spouse is the only one who will have that connection of your child with you.
I often think now, as more time has gone on, that my husband and I will eventually be the only ones that care. Everyone else can move on with their lives, even our children. It does not affect them every day. And I’ve come to a realization that that’s OK. It’s OK because that’s the way that life works. I know if I ask for it I can get love and support from others, but ultimately it will just be my husband and I who will always be grieving our daughter. So I really want to keep that person close who understands the most, even if we grieve differently.