The depths of grief are an abyss that can swallow us up in some of our darkest moments. It can happen when a friendship ends, or when someone close to us dies. For married couples, those moments become even more unbearable when a child is lost. There are no easy answers in times like these.
For many couples facing the loss of a child, the loss is overwhelming—a torrent of emotions so strong that it can rip a marriage apart if not dealt with properly. Factors like the level of support for each partner and differing levels of grief can create a perfect storm of despair and suffering that strains even the strongest bonds.
But finding ways to cope in the wake of losing a child together is possible. Communication is key: reaching out to one another, whether it’s through talking, sharing a hug, or just sitting in silence, is essential. The couple should let their feelings out, no matter how painful, and express them without judgement or criticism. Having an outlet for their grief can be incredibly healing.
Couples should also be aware of the impact of this tragedy on their physical health. Sleep, nutrition, exercise, and time outdoors all play a role in promoting overall mental and emotional well-being. Setting limits on work or other obligations (if it’s possible) can alleviate stress and provide much-needed respite to process the emotions associated with the loss.
Along the same lines, couples in mourning should be mindful of the importance of seeking professional support. Grief and conflict counselling, spiritual reflection, or therapy can offer an outlet for both the individuals’ and the marriage’s needs in order to help cope with the heartache.
It is important for couples to remember that the stages of grief will vary from person to person and, after the initial shock has worn off, an understanding of where each partner is with the different stages on any given day is something that should be continually revisited. No one should feel ashamed to seek counseling if hope seems dim and far away.
Resourcefulness can help couples transcend the seemingly insurmountable difficulties that come with the loss of a child. Finding meaningful activities during this time can help keep them in the present and connected. Choosing activities that have a purpose or meaning may be especially effective in helping the couple process their grief and ultimately unify their strengths to rebuild. Whether it’s making a quilt with fabric in cherished colors or volunteering at an animal shelter, doing something intentional together can help fill the emptiness that comes along with loss.
Couples should recognize that nothing will ever replace the hole left behind by the loss of the child, and allowing oneself to find moments of happiness in life despite being forever changed by unimaginable grief is paramount. New layers will always be added to the grief but remembering to grieve and move forward is, in many cases, the only way to make sure love keeps winning.
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