I’ve written a lot about the amazing people that have supported us as well as the people that have disappointed us on this journey. Relationships change so much once you lose a child because you have changed. Either people can stick around or can’t handle it.
The scariest thing for us was talking to my sister and friend and hearing the ugly statistics of child loss. The hospital social worker had sent us home with loads of paper detailing what to do next. Parker and I weren’t all that interested in reading that literature and to be honest I still haven’t gone through the piles of paperwork from the hospital almost a year later. They sit in a folder that my friend put together in my living room on a shelf.
But my sister and my friend, they read and read and read. I remember in the days following how they would read some of the literature and then stop short. I knew at the time that they were paraphrasing what we would be able to hear and keeping the bad stuff at bay. The fact is that a staggering 80% of couples divorce after the loss of a child. We knew this very early on and honestly, it terrified us. We had already lost so much, how could the odds be so stacked against us?
I remember meeting with our therapist for the first time and she asked us why we were there. I looked her in the eye and told her the statistics and that we didn’t want that to happen to us. She asked if we wanted to both see her, or she could recommend someone else for one of us. We chose to both see her, because we both felt very comfortable with her and she was trained in trauma. She also sees us for couples as needed. She’s good at working with both of us on issues that one spouse might be having. She’s able to be fair and this has worked well for us.
Even though we constantly work at it, it hasn’t been easy. Most couples divorce after child loss for reasons of blame, lack of communication, change and differences in how they grieve. I can tell you first hand that I can see how easily it can happen.
I have such tremendous guilt over the accident (more on that at another time), but Parker has never expressed any blame on my part. He’s truly amazing, I don’t know that I would be able to feel the same way if the tables were turned. I find fault in everything. Maybe that’s why he’s mine. He’s a bigger person than me in so many ways.
In the beginning, it was very easy for me to show my feelings. We even joked that I would break down at night and Parker would break down in the morning, we were able to help lift each other up. It worked for us and kept us close during those first long months. Over time, we have (or mostly I have) retreated to our separate corners to lick our wounds in private. I took to blogging and found such amazing release in writing. Parker went back to work and would spend time at his desk going through pictures and videos of Benny (I have still not watched a Benny video yet). Parker shows more of his emotions while I tend to cry in private. It’s hard when your partner is not grieving the same way. As unfair as it is, I get frustrated when Parker is having a bad day if I’m having a good one. The good ones are so hard to find sometimes.
Communication has always been a frustration for us. I used to have an amazing memory and Parker was my goldfish, only able to retain something that I said for 30 seconds. I was busy, but usually able to keep on top of things with work, the kids and the house. I now have joined Parker in the fish tank. I forget everything unless I put it on our calendars. I can no longer retain details and this is very frustrating to a type A like myself. With two goldfish in our bowl, we had some major communication issues. We are constantly frustrated with each other because we forget to tell each other important things.
The only one that has come somewhat’easy’ to us is change. We didn’t have a choice. When people say, ‘oh I don’t know how you do it,’ we don’t have a choice in the matter. We’re surviving as best as we can and the only way to do that is to change, as much as you don’t want to. Losing a child changes who you are and changes your marriage. Ours is still a work in progress.