Taking Care of Your Relationship After the Death of a Child

By Lisa Buell —

Valentine’s Day is a day for lovers, a time to celebrate our passion for one another.  But what happens after our child has died?  Our innocence is lost and it takes every ounce of strength to be civil or even interested in what our partners are saying.

What happens when our psychological energy is consumed with the memories of our child and it is taking everything we have just to get through the day? What happens when we can barely look at our spouse because it reminds us of the dream that was our life, a dream that evaporated the moment our child took a last breath?

What we do is follow our own breath, let it take us deep inside ourselves to20find the love and gratitude for the history we have shared with our partner.  We take this time to acknowledge that our partners experience the same love we have for our child; many of our memories are theirs as well.

This Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to remember the love we have for our child and the magnificence that our love created.  Know that we have the ability somewhere deep within ourselves to rise above the loss just long enough to create something that comes from our hearts, even when they are broken: a collage of our family, a table decoupage with our pictures, a necklace engraved with our children’s names, a new remote control so our spouse can continue to zone out on the television, a quilt made from our child’s clothes, a rose bush in the garden that is our child’s favorite color.

Or we can wait until it’s Valentine’s Day and buy massive quantities of half-price chocolate and eat until we fall into a sugar coma, sleeping off the hangover as we hope to be more up for Valentine’s Day next year.  We all have choices in this life, I believe in the human spirit and that we are all trying to do our very best… whatever that may look like. So do your best to love yourself and know that the love, passion, and energy you once felt for your partner will begin to flow yet again.

Lisa Buell is a writer, activist, mother of three and parent of two. She works with Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, Partnership for Parents www.childrenshospice.org , as a parent advocate bringing a parent’s perspective to the development of palliative care programs and policies. To contact Lisa email her at [email protected]

Lisa Buell

More Articles Written by Lisa

Lisa Buell is a writer, activist, mother of three and parent of two. She works with Children’s Hospice and Palliative Care Coalition, Partnership for Parents www.childrenshospice.org , as a parent advocate bringing a parent’s perspective to the development of palliative care programs and policies. A published author, Lisa is writing her first book, entitled “Call Button,” a collection of essays about the continuation of life in the face of treatment, navigating the waters of grief, celebrating communities and the clinicians who care. To contact Lisa email her at [email protected]

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  • POwens says:

    I lost my son almost 2 years ago and the pain and turmoil has cost me greatly. My husband and my only daughter have suffered the most from my emotional health. I can’t seem to love anybody anymore, no compassion, only anger, saddness and overwhelming sense of part of me has died. God bless all those who have lost children.

  • Lisa Buell says:

    I?ve learned to appreciate the layers of living with loss. I understand there is a rhythm, and even sometimes a season. I continue to parent my daughter through my work, my life and I carry her in my heart always. It?s been ten years since she passed, but her spirit lives on in me and in all those that love her. I would trade all my friendships and personal growth for just one more day with her. But I am no longer waiting to trade my life and that in itself is a miracle. Be patient and loving with yourself, and know that the pain and rawness you feel now, will slowly turn into a dull ache, a reminder of the love you feel and somehow, more and more, that love will fill you up and shift between the plains of loss and life.

  • jane driscoll says:

    The best advice I can give is for you to try to go easy on yourself. Give yourself room to be numb, be sad, be what you are- overwhelmed by grief. Keep breathing. Let others love you and try to do no harm to others who may not know what to do or how to understand what you’re experiencing. You might never “get over” the loss of you son, but with patience and willingness you can “get through” it. The way you get to experience his love and your memories will transform and you will find yourself able to experience love and joy in places in your life that today feel impossible.
    I miss my lost loved ones to this day. I still cry and wish it could have been different. But my grief has transformed me and I carry their love and memories with love and pride, I can experience joy and love, and I am grateful for the time that we did get to share. Those are things I never thought would happen in my life and I didn’t even care if they did. But with time, love, support, willingness, and faith my experiences changed. Please hang in there. You are not alone.