Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sex & Grief

Yes, I am going to go there.  (Sorry Mom, Dad, and In-laws, this one might not be for you.  Kristi, my sister, you have to read it because you are my editor. Please no silly faces.)

Sex and intimacy is a part of a marriage. It is definitely how a couple comes to have a baby, so it shouldn't be a surprise that there can sometimes be complications and hesitations when the topic comes up after your loss.

After Nora died, sex was the last thing on my mind.  The weeks after such an emotionally and physically traumatic birth kind of dulled the topic or the interest right away. But, I did crave intimacy from the moment I heard the news that she had died.  Intimacy and sex are different.  As a woman I feel that intimacy is about touching, holding, and kissing. Nick and I did A LOT of this after Nora's death and I believe the other's touch helped us heal.  

We longed for closeness of Nora's body against ours.  Holding her, carrying her, caressing her.  So we transferred our intimacy needs onto each other, and it helped.  Nick and I would lie on the couch, me with my head in his lap and my feet curled into my chest while he rubbed my back.  Then we would switch, taking turns attending to each others needs, only this time I would hold him and caress his head.

Then finally, when the time was right, Nick and I found each other romantically again.  Getting there seemed natural, but only because we had open communication about how our grief impacted our desires, or lack there of.  Even now we still need to be honest about how grief plays into our sex life.  There have been times when Nick is honest with me and tells me his grief is too much to be intimate.  During these times it can be hard for me, because I have shared with Nick that sometimes I crave sexual intimacy as a way to ease my grief.

I relate this need of mine to a story I read about another woman's desire to have sex after a major loss, she went on to say that with the feeling of death looming over her, she craved life, and sex was an extension of the essence of life she so desperately craved.  That is how I felt at times.  But, I needed to be aware that my partner sometimes shied away from intimacy when grieving.  We both had to come to accept the other's emotional waves and how to surf them together.

Not everyone's stories of intimacy are the same after pregnancy loss.  Sherokee Ilse in the book, Couple Communication After A Baby Dies, shares that, "Intimacy reminded her even more of the pain."  Tim Nelson, co-author of the same, shares about the struggle with guilt that sometimes comes after enjoying oneself again in a sexual way after a loss.  And to make matters harder, sex and grief after pregnancy and child loss has the added stressful questions of: Are we having sex to have another baby? Will we get pregnant?  Do I want to get pregnant?  These thoughts can be scary when we so want the baby we lost but are terrified to try again, yet so desperately want too. Also, all of this anxious thinking can really squash the mood.

Sex and grief, they are both messy topics, but what they both have in common is that they can be taboo.  In  breaching this subject I want to give permission to myself and others to talk about both.  Even if they are difficult to explore, discuss, and share.  Sex is how we come to have our beautiful babies.  So it's not a surprise that the subject can be difficult to address after your child dies.

Give yourself and your partner permission to talk about it. 

I give you permission, if that helps.  


  1. The sweetness and honesty of this post really moved me, Lindsey. Thank you for being so candid.

    The picture of the two of you taking it in turns on the couch to comfort the other with loving touch just blew me away.

    Much love on your journey,

  2. I love that you "went there." It's such a prevalent part of the healing process, but something we really don't talk about much. I think for so many sex after loss can seem simply...scary. For so many reasons. It takes courage to keep living! xo

  3. Thank you for posting this. This has been something my husband and I have dealt with heavily this week, and it's good to hear someone else's experience.


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