“The death of a child is a strain on anyone.”
That’s putting it mildly, I think.
While many hear that the divorce rates of couples who suffer the loss of a child are in the 70th, 80th or 90th percentiles, a 2006 study directed by Compassionate Friends found that only 16% of marriages ended as a direct result of or after the loss of a child. That’s far below the 50% divorce rate we in America claim.[i]
I wonder if a similar study, investigating only couples who have suffered what would be considered the loss of a baby—miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal or postneonatal—would show similar results.
Before I wrote this article, I spoke to my husband and told him I wanted to be very real and very honest with those who read. I asked him if he was ok with me sharing some pretty intimate details, but details I feel extremely important to share in light Father’s Day being so close. He is really an amazing man, and he didn’t hesitate at all in giving me permission.
So I’m sharing that he and I are going to counseling. We found out on Mother’s Day that our last little baby, lost in April, was another little boy with perfect chromosomes. We named him Trey.
John and I had talked about how sweet it would be to take Luke and a little brother camping and fishing, and I know that he was about as excited as an expectant daddy could be at the thought of this.
Yet, in these months after losing Trey, when people ask us about children, John is quick to recognize Matthew as our first child and Luke as our living child.
Then he says, “And Lori just had a miscarriage.”
Our marriage is strong. We went to counseling together after Matthew died, and grieved very similarly…both feeling very similar devastation and loss. We truly are surviving the worst and grew stronger together for it.
It is not the same now, with a miscarriage at 13 and a half weeks.
“We have tried to get pregnant for years.”
“We lost Matthew.”
“We have Luke.”
But I had a miscarriage.
I do not doubt John’s depth of love for me, or the children for whom we have been blessed to call ours.
When I think of John holding Matthew in his arms as he took his last breaths…and then giving his lifeless body back to the nurses …leaving the hospital without his precious son?
I know that is a pain that will haunt him forever and a pain I can never truly understand myself.
It’s that pain I remember for him when I get hurt about feeling alone in losing Trey.
We lost another child. I did not just have a miscarriage.
We suffer again.
Yet, this time, I feel I suffer more alone.
When I say something, John is always quick to admit I am right. We DID lose another child. We DID lose another sibling of Luke’s.
But his first automatic instinct is to say, “Lori had a miscarriage,” and not, “We lost our third son Trey.”
Neither of us wants this to become something that divides our marriage, so we are back in counseling to deal yet again with how infertility and child-loss and grief affect our marriage. To ensure that it is the strong marriage to which we are committed and in which we want to raise Luke and any other children we might have.
But I wonder how many don’t have that opportunity? That recognition of a need to build inpenetratable walls around their marriages so that they do not become a statistic?
And friend, I pray that if this is you, that you and your partner are able to come together and find a way to grieve differently, yet not leave each other feeling alone. Though society may imply that strong men don’t ‘need’ help, that’s a lie. There is no shame in working together to protect your marriage.
You’ve already lost so much. Don’t let grief steal one more thing.
[i] “When a child dies—2006 Survey Summary.” Compassionate Friends. 2006
*This article originally ran in Still Standing Magazine on June 8, 2012.
I’m small, but scrappy! I have a fierce passion for my family, friends and life in general…I’m a military spouse who has battled infertility for over 13 years, as well as the loss of two babies gone too soon. I love to laugh, and am grateful for every second I celebrate with the ones I love. You can find me at my blog Lori Does Maryland or on Facebook Lori Mullins Ennis or on The Twitter here Lori M. Ennis