Keeping Your Marriage Strong After Tragic Loss

When Jeb was killed, Gregg and I heard over and over again that the statistic was super high for divorce after child death. Actually, it’s not that high. About 16% of marriages end in divorce after the death of a child, and only about 8% say it was because of the death.

So, that’s good news since 50% of marriages end in divorce, I’d say it’s better than the norm.

However, it was a good question. How can you keep your marriage together following the death of a child?

I’ve been pondering it since the text this morning. Here are my thoughts:

1. There isn’t a SINGLE PERSON on this planet who is hurting as much as you are except the other parent. Not one. Not siblings, not grandparents, not aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. It doesn’t compare. I know he’s hurting as much as I am, even if his pain might not look the same as mine.

2. Avoid the blame game. Our son was killed in a tragic accident. That’s the official report. A tragic accident – meaning, no one is to blame. We both wish we could go back in time and change the answer to two questions – both would have saved his life. Hindsight is a terrible mistress. But the fact is, we can’t go back and it was a tragic accident. We can’t change it. Turning on each other will only make every single thing worse exponentially.

3. Give each other the space needed to mourn alone. We have both been good at that. I NEED to be alone. Gregg is learning that he needs it sometimes, too. That’s okay becase —

4. Be there together. Ready to touch, hug, cling to. Again, no one is hurting more than we are. We need to hold each other up. We are in the midst of a storm that is raging around us while trying to navigate in the shadow of grief. I don’t want to do it alone. No one would.

5. Our family talks about Jeb – casually, mournfully, proudly, sadly. He’s always present and we aren’t going to let him go. Our family has always been very tight-knit. Losing Jeb doesn’t remove him from our life or memories. We miss him. We talk about him.

6. Be honest when you need to mourn. Cry out loud. Don’t feel bad or feel like you’ll make others feel bad.

7. Talk about what is next and how to navigate the new normal. Communication is always the key to any marriage – more so when there’s a massive upheaval. Be on the same page.

8. I have never been one to fight with my spouse in times of stress. I know that some people do that, but Gregg and I just don’t. We are one. A single unit. Stress is much better handled when we’re operating thusly – and praying about it. 2023 was a hell of a year. It brought physical stress, medical stress, financial stress, emotional stress. And then the worse thing in the world happened and we had to navigate that. Fighting with my husband isn’t going to make any of that go away. We work together and constantly shift and adjust to make sure we continue to.

9. Pay attention to your spouse’s love language and make sure you’re feeding it. We are raw, hurting, our love-tanks are running on empty. The more we feed each other, the more strength we’ll have to stand together.

10. Worship together, pray together, pray for each other.

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