Loving Each Other Well While Grieving
Since it is super fresh for us right now, let’s talk about a part of marriage that no one expects to walk through. 3 years ago yesterday, we lost our son, Thompson. We found out he was very sick when I was 18 weeks pregnant. We carried him to term, and soaked up every moment that we could during that time. On the day he was born, we held and loved him for his entire 24 minutes. I could write an entire book on all of my feelings regarding the last 4 sentences, but I’ll try to stay on track.
When we ran off to Aruba, almost 10 years ago, never in our wildest nightmares did we expect to lose a child. That kind of thing happens to other people. Until it happened to us.
We have both grieved the loss of Thompson is very different ways. I get lost in all of my feelings and replay the past, and imagine a future we will never have. Justin grieved deeply 3 years ago, and has spent every other minute making sure I keep my head above water.
Something that was so helpful for me in the early days following our loss, was that he called and checked on me. So often. But he didn’t say, “Are you grieving today?” He didn’t bring it up. He let me guide those conversations. That was helpful, because had he come out and asked, “Are you missing Thompson today?” even if I was having a good day, that question could have sunk me.
The hardest week of every year for us is Thompson’s birthday. I think Justin finds comfort in comforting me. He is such an amazing care taker, when my heart hurts. Basically, when I’m in the deep waters, he just comes along for the ride. He lets me pour my heart out if I want to, go for a long run by myself if I want to, shoot, he will even eat an entire pizza with me, if that brings me some measure of comfort.
We do lots of cuddling and love making. Being one physically unifies our minds. We function better together, and we understand each others’ hearts and hurts better. This might seem bizarre, but it is actually one of the things that I feel has been a glue for our marriage, in the face of loss.
Another solace for us has been keeping to our date night schedule. We went on a date a few days before delivery, and about a week after. Again, that might seem bizarre, but we are very much creatures of habit, so getting back to our normal pursuit of each other was good and right. On date nights, we talk about where we have been, where we are going, what is working, and what needs work. We love that time, to just focus on each other.
We both made a strong effort to find a new normal following Thompson’s death. I spent about a week in the bed, in shock I believe, but after that, we just started going through the motions again. Justin went back to work, so I was in charge of keeping the kids fed and alive and stuff. I started back to cleaning, doing laundry, and making dinner for our family (these things are important to Justin and make him feel loved), I also got back to working out, which was incredible for my healing.
We took the kids to the mountains one weekend, and we went to Mexico for a week once I was cleared for swimming! Making memories and taking trips was a critical part of our healing.
I guess, in a nutshell, we continued. It would have been easy to give up, or direct our grief towards one another. But instead, we continued putting our marriage first. We put it before our loss, before our other kids, and before ourselves. We did and continue to do the things that we know bring joy to each other. So, here is my takeaway-if your marriage is facing grief, cling to each other. Work through it together. Pray through it together. Cry together. Laugh together. Keep doing life together, and keep doing the things that you know speak love to your person.