Oh, that's so sad, I can't believe they are splitting up, haven't they been married forever.
The other day someone asked if I was still married, I said yes and will be celebrating 30 years next year God willing. Oh, that's a surprise, because I heard that most couples' marriages fall apart after they lose a child. Really, I said, I know several people who have remained happily married.
Most couples remain together after a major tragedy. Yes there is some issues that arise, right after Rachel died, I wanted to be alone, my husband didn't. I would retreat to our bedroom and he would watch TV for hours. Ocassionaly we would get upset at each other, feeling that the other didn't seem to understand. There were also issues that arose because of people making judgments on each of our behaviors and such. It wasn't always easy, and we did face some challenges, but nothing we couldn't handle or discuss.
Several friends of ours have also suffered through the death of a child and they are very much together. Like my husband and I, they worked through their own grief, and the grief a couple shares, and managed to survive. They survived through all the doubt, uncertainty, what to say and what not to say, and worked on what really mattered in their relationship, each other. I truly believe that love sustains us when all else seems futile.
Now to say that this comment didn't peak my curiosity would be an understatement. I decided to do a little research project, and see what the stats were. According to Sheri & Bob Stritof, Marriage Guides for About.Com, "Overall, 72% of parents who were married at the time of their child's death are still married to the same person. The remaining 28% of marriages include 16% in which one spouse had died, and only 12% of marriages that ended in divorce ... Furthermore, even among the 12% of parents whose marriages ended in divorce, only one out of four of them felt that the impact of the death of their child contributed to their divorce." Now after reading this, I think my husband and I will be okay!
However, they do report that couples are more likely to break-up after pregnancy loss. I can somehow understand this aspect, the mother has felt the baby and realizes what is missing, while the father never really got to know this unborn child. It may be difficult for a husband to understand why his wife seems so distant. I have seen first hand the effects miscarriages can have on expectant moms and dads. My mother lost two boys, and it took a while for her to get back into the swing of things, and she already had four of us. I was 14 when she lost the first child, and I still remember it as if it were yesterday. I remember both my parents having a difficult time with it, and I remember how they worked at their grief together.
The Stritof's went on further in their article to discuss some of the issues that couples face after the loss of a child. For example,
- 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.
They list quite a few more, for the complete list visit About.com. They also cover a lot more in their article and the advice I read loud and clear, was that couples should talk to each other. Isn't that true for any relationship. In every thing we have had to deal with in our lives, we have always found that just sitting down and talking has made all the difference in the world. We have talked, cried, laughed and shared what was troubling us, and we have sat sometimes just holding hands, letting each other know we care.
It was not easy at times, and sometimes there didn't seem to be any words, but we gave each other space, waited patiently for each other, and listened when only one could speak. Yes we still hurt, we still miss our daughter very much, but we know that we are here for each other, and that together, we have the strength to weather the storms. I trully believe in the expression, 'there is strength in numbers,' so why go it alone, if you have someone who can share it with you.
If you have lost a child, and are now divorced or widowed, find someone who will let you talk, who is willing to listen, to hold your hand. We all need someone, whether it be your spouse, a family member, good friend, or a counselor, allow yourself to open up to them, to share your feelings and such. None of us needs to carry this burden alone, nor should we. I don't know about you, but the loss of a child is too heavy a load to bear.
Grief in general, is heavy and hard to carry on one's own. Why then struggle under it's weight? Allow yourself to find healing by talking, sharing and opening yourself to your spouse, significant other, or someone you trust. No one is an island, and even if you believe you are an island, there are still ways of reaching these remote locations. Don't isolate yourself, talk, talk, talk, and allow yourself to find healing.
It made a difference for my husband and I, and when my children were ready, for them too. The most important thing to remember is that your child was a wonderful expression of your love for each other. Even though your child may be gone, they still are love and everything is represents.
Love is the treasured gift they gave us, and the gift that remains long after they have gone.
Love never fails! Love is Eternal!
Blessings! and until we meet again.