Loss and the impact on close relationships
Grief has been explained to me in many ways. One picture that stays in my mind is the one where it simply starts at one stage, goes through many others and ends in another. If only it was that simple….
Next to this one, is what I think represents it in a better way, a tangled web, all over the place, going backwards and forwards along the stages at any time.
I look at it as a roller coaster ride with its twists and turns, clinging on for dear life at some points, and just sitting on the ride in others, and this gets pretty complicated when there is more than one person involved in the grief.
I wanted to share my experience of loss and the impact it has had on my relationship. Me and my husband had just been married a few months, we had two children, one from a previous relationship, and we felt pretty content about everything, so thought that maybe we could add to our brood.
I got pregnant soon afterwards, but then I couldn’t have predicted what happened next, we were newlyweds, contented, in love and looking forward to the future together. Not at one moment did I think that baby loss would come into the equation ever. Now we had been through things that had tested us before as a couple, and we got through them, but this was on a whole new level.
The roller coaster we were both on, sometimes took a different turn, so we weren’t in sync, sometimes it did a loop, sometimes it shifted to place that I wasn’t expecting, many times I wasn’t even strapped in and sometimes my husband wasn’t even in the same carriage as me.
At first, I didn’t quite understand why we felt differently, at different times, which meant the roller coaster was on completely different tracks for a while.
I have always been a very open person, I like talking and writing things down as I can see the benefits in doing this for me. My husband, on the other hand, doesn’t really like talking, shuts himself off a bit from the world and keeps a lot to himself. We were experiencing the loss differently, and that was hard to accept.
All this seems rather negative, but there were many times that my husband was alongside me in the carriage and we were just riding it together. At this point in time years have passed, we are still on that same roller coaster, but it’s steadier right now.
I don’t think any loss is the same, so for two people to feel the same about a loss didn’t really happen the way I expected it to. I didn’t think logically back then, it didn’t even occur to me that of course, we would be feeling differently, because we didn’t experience the exact same thing. Just one example is that I had feelings connected to what my body went through, and my husband didn’t, so how rationally could I expect him to feel the same as me? I wasn’t rational at all.
When I was in that situation nothing really happened the way I expected it to, and nothing meant sense to me. It is only now that time has passed and we are further on in this roller coaster ride that I can try to understand. I feel as a lot of the steadiness has come from opening up and sharing our feelings together, whether they are different or the same, without taking things personally, without thinking what or how we should or should not be feeling, but just feeling.
However, this has been a huge challenge and has taken time and effort from both of us, riding the roller coaster and trusting in wherever and whatever way it took us.
I have found that grief for me is not like the first picture at all, although it may be for some people. The roller coaster has been a good way of understanding our loss, and one day I hope it comes to a gentle stop, so that we can both get off it together.