Strangers in Grief
He woke up early and started his day. I struggled most mornings to get out of bed.
He picked up the phone to answer with a happy ‘hello’. I walked right by and let it ring.
He tackled work as if his life depended on it. I let the clean laundry pile up on the couch and didn’t care if it made it upstairs into drawers or not.
He worked multiple projects around the house. I simply tried to breathe from moment to moment.
He easily smiled and charmed people with a funny quip. I forced myself to show up and usually couldn’t wait to get home.
He brushed off thoughtless comments regarding our dead daughter and rationalized that no harm was meant. I let each word pierce my heart and bled to death as I struggled to pick my jaw up off the floor.
He was super dad. I often forgot what day it was or when I last took a shower.
He told people we were fine. I told people the truth they never wanted to hear.
His grieved in silence. I screamed until I lost my voice.
We both loved and lost. We lost our daughter. We lost hope. We even lost one another for a time.
He preferred seclusion for his grief, showing the outside world a mask. He felt an ingrained drive to be active, solve problems and have routine. I felt the exact opposite. I felt betrayed and alone because he was not screaming aloud with me.
In the darkest moments, we were like poised vipers striking at one another, spewing hurt like venom. Words that should never be uttered seemed to easily find their way out of our mouths to pierce each others hearts.
Our differences became a barrier to communication and we decided to try counseling. It was not easy, but these visits helped us set ground rules for our discussions, helped us voice our differences to a neutral third-party, and it served to help us re-commit to one another and our marriage.
The reality for most couples is that grief magnifies your differences forcing you to cope in the ways that are most natural to you. These differences, under normal circumstance, compliment and balance one another, but when a child dies you struggle to find connection and understanding with the one person who has lost as much as you have ~ your spouse.
In the end, we found one another again and our marriage is stronger because we have fought so hard through this nightmare of grief.
The cruelest part of grief is how isolating it can feel. If you have experienced even a small amount of what I have in your relationship, I encourage you to remember the ‘love’ that brought you together and commit to fight for one another again.