Intimacy After Loss

Over the last few months we have received emails from several of you who have recently suffered a loss in your lives.  You have asked about how to handle intimacy in the midst of losing a loved one.  One woman even asked if one of us had personally had any experience living through this ourselves.  Everyone processes grief differently, but here is my story.

I lost my grandmother six years ago.   She & I were extremely close to the point where she was truly my second mom.  I grew up next door to her and she taught me how to sew on her old Singer sewing machine, how to bake cupcakes, and how to make homemade biscuits.  When my parents fought (which happened a lot) she was my refuge and took me in.  When I was sick at school, she is the one who would come pick me up.  As I grew into a woman she remained one of my best friends and you could find me at her house multiple times a week.  She was truly a woman of God and I had so much admiration for her.

When she was eighty-eight years old, Cancer took her from me and her death was a blow that was so hard to recover from.  My children were 2 & 4yrs at the time and I remember trying so hard to be strong in front of them….and then when I was alone, in the bathroom, driving, lying in bed, doing dishes, wherever…. I would grieve her loss the most.  I felt like no one understood the bond I had with her, and I felt like my children had been robbed of being able to know the best person in the world.

I remember being so upset that I just wanted to be held by my husband.  I also remember a period of time where I was just numb.  I think I had cried so much that there was nothing left but numbness, and I just wanted everyone to leave me alone, including my husband.

But during that time where I was slowly coming out of the grief, and coming back to myself, I remember wanting my husband to make love to me to give me some normalcy.  One of my primary love languages is physical touch, and so I wanted that intimacy between us so that I could feel my husband’s love for me.  Orgasm wasn’t as important, but I did want to feel him inside me.  I wanted to feel us joined together.  I wanted to know that our lives and our love would go on.  I wanted that reassurance.

My husband thought that the “nice thing to do” would be to not initiate sex with me at all, because he didn’t want me to feel pressured, and he didn’t want to come off as a jerk after I had just experienced such a tragic loss… and I wasn’t bold enough (or good enough with my communication) to just tell him that I actually NEEDED sex with him.  So for a little while I wanted/needed that connection to him but didn’t get it because he thought he was doing the right thing.  But sex would have been comforting to me.

You may not be like me at all.  Everyone processes grief in a different way.  My only advice to you would be to make sure that your husband knows what you want/need from him during this difficult time.  You may go through periods of different emotions such as anger, profound sorrow, bitterness, emptiness, fear, numbness, and many others.  Just allow yourself to be human and know that you have a husband and family who are here for you in whatever capacity you need them to be.  And your heavenly Father is also here with you, holding you in His arms.  You are not alone.

If anyone would like to share a testimony of how you were able to live through grief and how the intimacy in your marriage was affected, please use the comment box.

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  • February 2011
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