The first six months following the loss of a child is when the majority of divorces occur. Problems that couples often encounter while dealing with grief include:
- Lack of communication with one another.
- How to parent their other children.
- Overprotectiveness of other children.
- Whether or not to have another baby.
- Differences in how to grieve.
- Blame and guilt.
- Turning to alcohol and drugs.
- Looking for someone or something to blame.
- Talking about the deceased child.
- Wondering when and where and how to deal with a child's belongings.
- Decision about whether or not counseling is needed.
- Financial concerns.
- Turning away from one another.
- One spouse may tend to feel anger sooner than the other.
- One may tend to feel sadness sooner than the other.
- One may want to "do" something to make things right again.
- One may just want to "be."
- If a couple had problems before the child's death, those problems can become more difficult to deal with.
Talk to One Another
- Don't ignore or try to bury your feelings. The death of a child will leave you feeling weak and dazed and in shock. You may find yourselves feeling alone and sullen.
- It is vital that a couple who has lost a child communicate their feelings with one another. Share your feelings of helplessness, confusion, anger, depression, pain, guilt, fear, and even hate.
- Learn and understand the stages of death and dying. Don't allow yourselves to get stuck in one of the stages. If you find your spouse becoming aloof, or if disharmony begins to get more intense in your relationship, seek counseling. Don't try to get through this alone.
What We LearnedThe two of us learned that it was important to remember that life is precious. By being overprotective of our children and one another, we were cheating all of us out of life. We learned to accept that we couldn't always keep our children safe and that we couldn't be in total control of our lives. Bob learned that big boys do cry and that he didn't have to be the strong one or the one to tough it out. We have since tried to live our lives in the present moment.
There Are No Quick FixesAlthough the first two years are the hardest, the pain is long-lasting. As the two of us were discussing writing this article, we found ourselves with watery eyes and getting emotional even though it has been many years since we lost Little Angel, Susan Sarah, and Teresa Rose.
Although it is important to accept your feelings, it is also important to get on with living your life and to not dwell on your grief. Find ways to laugh with one another. With your love for one another, you will weather this storm together.