Grieving After Baby's Death
My husband and I had a son who died when he was four days old. My husband has recently moved out of our room to sleep on the sofa and he refuses to talk to me about our son. I know he's grieving, and he knows I'm here for him to talk, but he doesn't want to connect with me. I'm really beginning to worry about my husband. I love him so much, but I'm afraid his grief will tear our marriage apart. What can I do?Question:
You are right to be worried about your marriage. Your grief must be shared or it is likely to drive you apart.
First, reach out to your husband about your concern for your marriage. Let him know that you are not only grieving your child, but that you are missing him deeply at this time. Express your concern for your relationship, but approach him, softly. Refrain from criticism, or anything he might interpret as blame. Instead, show him your vulnerability and sadness about his withdrawal in a gentle manner, that clearly communicates your love.
If your words have no influence, put your feelings on paper. Write him a letter, again letting him know that you miss him and need him by your side, now more than ever. Express your desire to mourn with him, rather than alone. Let him know that, while you have lost your child, you do not want to lose him, too.
Although it is natural for husbands and wives to mourn differently, it is critical that spouses turn towards each other, rather than away from each other in time of crisis. How the two of you connect through this period will either strengthen, or threaten your bond.
If you are unable to reach your husband on your own, ask him to come to a grief counselor with you, or attend a group for parents who have lost children. Your local children's hospital is likely to have a social worker that can help families through this period of bereavement.
Your husband is suffering in solitude. The sorrow of losing a newborn is distinct from other losses, as it represents not only the loss of a child, but of lost promise. It is sometimes difficult for others to understand the depths of this kind of mourning, making it that much harder to share. Isolation during this period may lead to a more insidious, ongoing depression and disconnecting during this time will certainly make for an anemic marriage.
Life has brought you into intense contact with the vulnerability of becoming parents. Perhaps there is opportunity to create a deeper bond through your experience together. Invite your partner to grieve with you, instead of withdraw from your relationship, in this painful time. Ask for his help to build a bridge between the two of you, rather than a wall of punishing silence.
Nature has not given you a choice in this matter, but you do have some choice about how you respond to life's sorrow. If you can use this pain to find solace in your relationship, your child's brief life on this earth will hold long-lasting meaning in your lives together.Answer: