Sex & Bereavement {the 5 Fs}

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Sex.  The subject of it, is one of the most abandoned areas of need in the home of the bereaved couple.

Did you catch that?  Areas of need.

Sex is intended to be healthy, and is a healthful resource that the bereaved person and bereaved couple can draw from.  Sexual satisfaction can release all kinds of hormones and physiological responses that are powerful safeguards for couples, for personal psychological wellbeing and overall health and wellness.  One such hormone is oxytocin – an ingredient as we look at the advantages of donation or other lactation options after pregnancy and infant loss, because the hormonal response can actually interrupt the strong cellular attacks we are subject to in the mist of fresh grief.

Grief by its nature can add dysfunction to the area of sex, from adding subtle challenges to downright blatant obstacles to it, and so it is vitally important that we address this.

So let’s talk about it.

To frame this subject well, we start with Five F’s as a place to start.  If sex has become a challenge in your relationship since entering bereavement, let’s look at the subject in this framework to break it down into smaller pieces, and there you can determine where your area(s) of greatest attack is.  Start with one.  Pick the one that speaks to you the most, and initiate gently and lovingly in that area.  You might even share this article with your spouse.

 

FUN

Sometimes, taking sexual engagement totally off the table is the best place to start.
Go back to having fun with your life partner.

  • Have a picnic together.
  • Go bowling.
  • Take a walk together.

 

FOREPLAY

Physical connection sometimes need to start off small.  It’s a wooing, and not every touch needs to be specifically sexual in nature, but in simple fondness and affection.

  • Hand holding.
  • Massage or gentle touch.
  • Kissing.

 

FLIRT

Neither one of you may ever return to who you once were.  That is a devastating truth, but is a wonderful acknowledgement that your baby matters and has changed your life.  We can find the goodness here.

  • Praise your spouse publicly.
  • Thank your spouse.
  • Show active listening and interest in your spouse’s interests.
  • Traditional kinds of flirting (winking, etc, whatever your comfort level is).
  • Texting to one another can be a very helpful tool in breaking silence and bridging the gap.

 

FAITHFUL

There’s a number of ways to incorporate faithfulness.

  • (faith in a spiritual context) Incorporating a spiritual or other higher plane into your relationship can be very meaningful.  1 Corinthians 7:5 can be misused, but it is meant to be an encouragement — sex can be a time of great spiritual connection with one another, so if you are not having sex, you are encouraged to maintain that spiritual connection through praying for your partner.
  • (faithfulness to keep one sex partner) It may be tempting to try sex with a partner who doesn’t know your grief story, and all the depth that it may entail.  We can hold great shame at our body, at our past, at our story.  The temptations involved in this are multifaceted and they can become wildly entangling.  Practicing sex on a stranger might seem like our aim might be to bring more back to our spouse.  Hoping that we push our spouse away in a very personal, targeted way so that we protect our real hurts — who could ever want to come back from the infidelity of your spouse? — is also a temptation that, with healing and love, we can overcome.
  • (faithful to spouse in a psychological, emotional, psychosocial way) To say, no matter what.  No matter what, even if there are violations even right here from within the faithful category, to say, my promise to faithfulness will cover all else.  Faithful to start back at the beginning of the 5F list, and keep on moving forward with my spouse.  Beginning, right now.

 

FORGIVE

Forgiveness is painful.  It’s examining an already fragile wound and determining that you will have an unbridled faithfulness even to the attacker or the source of that pain.

  • Forgive your own body for the violations you may feel it has inflicted, upon yourself as well as your relationships with others, including your spouse.
  • Forgive your self for the poor choices you have made.
  • Forgive your spouse for the poor choices he or she has made.
  • Forgive your self and/or your spouse for any misuse or abuse of sex, or of power regarding sex in your past, including:
    when trying to conceive (TTC) becomes a barrier to the relational component of sex
    withholding sex from your spouse as a form of vengeance
    asking for sexual engagement from the birthing mother before her body has physically begun to heal well            after the birth of your baby
    or any other way that sex can become an area under attack in the bereavement journey.
  • In line with forgiveness, is also, simply speaking gently to yourself and honoring the needs you have.

 

We also have much more support in our emotional health section of stillbirthday.

 

 

 

 

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