In my life I've known many couples who've lost a child, whether through miscarriage, stillbirth, or the loss of a child (no matter the age) and now my husband and I are walking through our own loss. Losing a child feels just as difficult no matter how long he or she lived. We tend to focus on how difficult it is for ourselves and can forget about our spouse in our grief. I've noticed grief manifest in a marriage in two different ways.
It can drive them apart. Hiding behind their grief, abstaining from any form of intimacy or physical touch, they wrap grief around them like a blanket and refuse to let their spouse in, creating a wedge in their marriage.
To be honest, I was worried about this kind of grief when our sweet Faith died. I was afraid of what this loss would do to our marriage.
But God is good. Our loss, while devastating, did not devastate our marriage. Clinging to one another both physically and emotionally, we've walked through this loss together. I have had this strong desire for my husband to be close to me as often as possible right now.
We communicate with one another our feelings about our loss. We talk about our sadness, we share truths from the Lord, and we discuss what we’re prepared for in regards to the future.
We've also given one another space to grieve the way we needed. My husband did not want to hold the baby. I made sure he knew I understood he needed to do what worked for him. When Christmas was over, I needed the cheerfulness of the decorations to get me through a few more weeks. My husband told me I could leave them up as long as I wanted (and as long as the tree stayed mostly green).
If you’re facing the loss of a child, I am so very sorry. It is truly the worst grief of them all. But don’t sacrifice your marriage because of your grief. Try these four things to keep your marriage strong even when you’re not feeling so strong:
- Physical Touch: Hold onto one another. Really, wrap your arms around your spouse & hold tight. Touch one another gently with a caress of the face or a squeeze of the hand. When everything is physically healed, make love to one another.
- Talk to one another. If you’re having a hard day, tell your spouse. If you had a bad dream, share it. If a Scripture touched your heart, read it aloud.
- Allow space for your spouse to grieve in his or her own way. Everyone’s grief looks different. Even in our own grief, we need to recognize our spouse’s grief will not look the same as our own.
- Decide together how best to keep the memory of your child alive. We have a few ornaments for our Christmas tree right now. My husband and father planted a tree near the place we buried Faith. In the future, we will do something more permanent in our own home. Do what will work for you and your spouse to provide healing for you both.
I pray that you will find healing and peace WITH your spouse as you walk through the loss of your child. Remember you became ONE on your wedding day. Hiding yourself away from your other half can have lasting consequences on your marriage.