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Couples dealing with the death of a child

We understand how devastating it is to lose a child and how much of a strain your grief can place on relationships. There will be challenges ahead, and no one will pretend it is going to be easy or that parents will ever truly get over the loss of their child but, together they can learn to adjust and integrate the loss into their new lives.

What challenges might our relationship face?

As a couple dealing with bereavement there will be many trials to face as you come to terms with your grief, including changes to your routine and trying to stay strong for the rest of your family. The first thing to be aware of is that there are often clear differences in the way that Men and Woman deal with loss. Men tend to have a desire to get back to work and to keep busy, whereas Women want to stay with their feelings and talk about their loss. It's important to know that both reactions are absolutely normal.

These differences in the ways which men and women grieve can lead to challenges in the relationship. Common signs are an increasing lack of communication with each other or they could find themselves blaming each other and subsequently feelings of resentment between the parents can take hold. Resentment can turn to guilt; guilt that you are still here or, that you feel guilty to smile again. Such challenging times can also exacerbate existing problems in your relationship. There is potential for these new heightened emotions to be directed to unrelated issues such as health, personal finances or indeed, to foster new dependencies on drink or drugs by way of an escape. Being aware of these potential effects and possible new behavioural patterns means that you can, as a couple work, together to help each other.

What can I do to help my relationship?

It is important at this time to acknowledge your feelings with one another. You may be feeling weak and alone however, the value of being able to talk to one another and communicate honestly cannot be underestimated. Try your best to discuss how you are both feeling, and be aware that you may both experience very different emotions at different times. This is perfectly normal; the stages of grief have no set rules or guidelines in which they should be followed.

Show your love for one another; commonly, men feel loved when they are valued and women when they are shown compassion. There are no quick fixes for a couple when dealing with the death of a child, it will take time but, by working together and being open with your feelings and emotions will help. You may find great benefit in bereavement counselling for both you as a couple but also for any other children you have. Even if there aren't any major relationship or behavioural issues, counselling will help you both cope with the situation better. On our website you can read more about counselling and how to access it.

Will our relationship be the same again?

Losing a child is the most profound loss anyone can experience. Nothing can prepare you for the intense emotions and feelings, or the strains that it can put on you as a couple. But, the bond and commitment of your relationship will help you survive and can even strengthen your relationship in the months and years to come. Life after the death of your child will never be the same and it is something you will never get over however, in time you will learn to be happy again, look forward and enjoy a "new normal" life together.

"He that conceals his grief finds no remedy for it" - Unknown