Child Loss, Grief, and Marriage: A Grieving Mom's Experience
Updated: Jan 26
Child loss is complicated enough. You hardly know how to cope with your own emotions, much less your partner's which can lead to a complicated mess.
When family and friends would ask how we were doing, I'd always answer "I'm in right field, my husband is in the bleachers, and my son has left the building." Looking back now, I think that answer was just a way to avoid the truth - we were a wreck. Individually and collectively.
My husband and I grieve very differently. That's normal. We are different people with different personalities. Yes, we are married and are very compatible in many ways, but we are different people.
I am a 'fixer' by nature; if there is something in my world that isn't working or needs to be remedied, I research the answer and set out to fix the issue asap. Well....we all know that child loss and grief cannot be fixed. Ever. But I sought out all the help I could find. I connected with a reiki specialist to help with my anxiety and who helped me open the flood gates that allowed me to grieve. I saw my family doctor who prescribed sleeping pills (a God's send!), and immediately found an excellent therapist. I also started to attend grief yoga and a local support group. I started journaling and meditating. I learned all that I could about connecting with spirit and how I could maintain some kind of relationship with my daughter in the after life. That is just the way I roll.
My dear husband on the other hand is a pure academic. He went back to work three weeks after Katie died and threw himself into his work which didn't leave anything left in his tank for my son and me. That's the way he rolls.
If you would have asked me at the six month to one year mark if our marriage was going to last, I would have said no, not a chance. We were hardly communicating because we were both so broken and needed to deal with our grief differently. Today, I would say that the tragedy of losing Katie has drawn us closer together. No one else in this world knows Katie like I do besides my husband. And no one else knows my pain like my husband, even if he manages his pain differently.
In time, that which divided us drew us closer together.
I had read articles that identified child loss as a reason why marriages crumbled and I was deeply concerned. Regardless of what the future held for the two of us, we had a teenaged son who was lost and needed us.
The fact of the matter is that only 16-20% of marriages breakdown and dissolve after child loss accordingly to research.