The tragedy in Aurora, Colorado this summer hits home for all of us; grief, loss, and death can affect our life and our marriage relationship. We all go from shock, disbelief, anger, frustration, to feelings of “if only”, to normal feelings of depression. Then finally a relationship can get to a point of not blaming or fixing, as you make peace with what happened, and accept what is. All of this is not easy, and marital therapy can increase your intimacy when there is a tragic loss of people in society as a whole, or when someone you knew and/or loved passes.
Tip: Don’t forget to also focus on the good things you have to look forward to. Staying put in grieving can lead to helplessness and feeling defeated. Try feeling your feelings for a half hour or an hour a day, and then notice how your natural resilience can help you “bounce back” a bit to function in other areas of your relationship life. A counselor can show you how to do this.
Tip: Notice when your inner critic, begins to hammer on you, and defend against it. “Back off!” you can say to the critic, so you don’t end of lashing out at others, or letting fear, resentment, or negativity get the better of you. Remember it’s ok to keep what you hold positive in your life, whether it’s your daily exercise, some quiet time, or your favorite dreams and goals.
Tip: Reach out to others. It’s ok to go have some fun while you’re recovering from loss. Reconnect, enjoy others aliveness, and remember the enthusiasm you have for your intimate relationship, and for friends. With intimacy, ask your partner to understand that you love them even though you spend time with friends, that you like to come back to your central relationship. You are not selfish when you want to be with people, or want to spend some time alone too. Find the balance that works for you and your partner.
Overcoming tragic loss can be a journey in resilience, in forgiveness, in grace. Remember all the good things in your life, but not at the expense of making peace with what happened, by feeling your feelings appropriately. When your critic gets you down, don’t believe the judgements of your mind, and tell the critic to “Get lost!” Hang out with people who love you for who you are, yet remember your primary relationship. There is maturity in finding the balance with both healthy autonomy and healthy connection. You might be amazed how much you can forgive after a deep loss affects you, when you take the time to work through what happened. Then your intimacy can deepen from the very human, heart-felt experiences you have successfully navigated, as you choose to be together.