How Grief Impacts Intimacy

Barbara writes:

My husband and I lost our son in a horrific car accident almost a year ago. Sex has had no meaning to us. BUT out of a 10 [scale] of pleasuring ourselves, we were an 8 for many years. We feel crippled by this loss. How do we begin to enjoy each other again. We also sought grief counseling but stopped. Please help us.

Liam’s Response:

I am humbled that you would seek my advice on such a difficult issue. There are no two things more majestic in all of nature than sex and death, and as the poets so often tell us, the two are forever linked in the haunted realms of our subconscious minds. Creation and destruction, production and loss are shimmering images on opposite sides of the same coin. In the tragedy of your son’s sudden death, you are reminded that this universe is governed by uncertainty and chaos. And I feel that you and your husband both fear going to the furnace of sexual pleasure, because in that furnace also resides the reality of death’s embrace.

Losing a child is devastating and for the sake of your own emotional survival, you have separated yourselves from all strong sensations, all strong passions, for to invoke these would also realign you with the agony of your son’s death. Though grief is as relative as anything else, one year is obviously not long enough for you in the scheme of these emotions. You find little value in sex or pleasure, because right now you find little value or meaning in anything. And this is normal. The good news is, your desire still lives. It is weak and staggering, but it lives. If it didn’t you certainly wouldn’t be asking me about sex.

This will be difficult to hear and even more difficult to practice. Your stifled desire is linked to your knowledge of nature’s sting, you are seeking answers, and I’m going to advise you be very careful who you seek them from. Spiritual systems, new age beliefs, pie in the sky explanations about death, may be very attractive right now but none of them will be helpful. I advise you to walk the hard road and allow yourselves true grief. Please don’t mollify your sorrow and anguish. Open to your pain and face your own fear of death. Desire lies in that realm because it is all a part of the cycle. Above all no matter how hard it is, don’t rush this. I feel strongly that you want a quick fix. It’s human nature to want understanding, but you won’t find what you seek outside in the light. The answer resides only within, tangled in a jungle of the marvelous and the horrid.

Don’t rush the sex. I can see that you and your spouse were amazing at the act of love before, and you will find your way back. Passion seldom ever perishes for good, if it existed in the first place. Accept nature. Accept death. Your son’s and your own. And in so doing, you’ll return to the enchanted forest. You had a great gift in your son. He was a living symbol of the creative power of your union. You will do his life the most honor by not denying the beauty of his death, and thereby the beauty of your creation and your desire for one another.

P.S. Go back to grief counseling with someone you can relate to. But THIS TIME, please, with the intention of taking your time with the process. There are no quick cures. But the two of you will survive this. I sense your strength.

Be well.


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