Marriage is an amazing union if you are lucky enough to find your soul mate.
Two people, who adore one another enough to celebrate their love in front of a crowd of family and close friends….sometimes, in a big flowing dress and a pretty veil, with a multi layered cake and sentimental toasts and bouquets of fresh flowers….and fun.
And it’s rewarding when it’s good. And stressful when it’s bad…but in my books, because of how I’ve been raised, it’s forever….
And I write about this today because Peter and I have had our differences this past week, over something trivial…and when this happens I have to remind myself of our journey together and that in the grand scheme of life, it’s only a minor thing and we will grow from it….hopefully. :)
Marriage after the death of a child is different. It changes….well ours has.
In my experience, and I say that because every relationship is not the same….there are two things that can happen after losing the one perfect thing you created together…and that you love more than anything else in this world. Either you can grow closer through a bond that nobody else can possibly relate to…
Or you can begin to drift apart through the different way in which each person grieves and changes. And I know after losing Savannah, I almost lost my marriage too. Through my own obsessions with the way Peter was dealing with the death of Savannah and his grief.
Besides giving birth to my two babies, marrying Peter was the happiest day of my life. It was the only time I’ve ever felt like a real life Princess. With Sydney Harbor as our backdrop, on an unusually warm October day, we committed to each other. It was whimsical and romantic….
And it’s every little girls dream is to find her Prince Charming, to marry them and ride off into the sunset…and live happily ever after….
The only wedding pic I have on file..the rest are in oz
But what if happy ever after gets stolen?
And one day you wake up and happy is replaced with your worst nightmare?
And you have to live through emotions you never dreamed were in the realm of a human’s spirit…or a marriage?
I’ve found men grieve differently to women. Well Peter and my dad and my brother do. Some men like Peter tend to be private. Bottling up their emotions and withdrawing into themselves. Whereas woman need to express or purge their emotions, to vocalize them and cry and scream. Some men on the other hand sometimes grieve in private….like they are taught to do from a young age…that it’s not ‘manly’ to show their tears or express how they really feel.
After Savannah died, day after day after day, I cried.
And because Peter never showed his emotions, suppressing his grief and never opening up, I felt deserted, alone and angry. Angry that he wouldn’t share how he felt in losing our four year old daughter.
It took me a long time to realize his way of dealing with our overwhelming loss was ‘his way!’ And it didn’t mean that he loved Savannah any less, or missed her sweet smile any lesser than I did….. And I accept that now.
Losing a child can destroy a marriage….or make the bond stronger. Nobody else can grasp the suffering you go through when you have to bury your child….except your partner. And sometimes I had expectations of Peter being different, or wanting him to be different to what he was. Some days I felt abandoned….tears became my best friend.
But with pain comes strength, and over time I began to realize I had to let go of my destructive thinking about Peter not sharing his grief and let that too come between us or my anguish would unravel not only our marriage but my life…and Dempsey’s life.
Our marriage has changed. We aren’t the same fun loving innocent people we were on that warm October day in 1997 that said “I do” to each other. That promised to be there for one another…”In sickness and in health.” And I don’t know if the loss of our daughter has a lot to do with that…or whether it’s that you can become complacent in a relationship and take each other for granted as time ticks by.
I do know that marriage after loss or challenges that change a family takes work and commitment and forgiveness and tolerance or respect. It’s a two way street.
As a couple, we’ve survived something so profound, bound together like a tightly woven rope in our grief over losing our daughter. Together we made Savannah…something so beautiful….and together we watched her die. And that part has created a bond that we’ll always have. And it is a paradox, but those days were the most precious of times, mixed with the most painful of days.
I’ve read different statistics on divorce after the death of a child, and I hope we never become a number….
Our responsibilities have changed from when Savannah was with us…our roles as carers of a terminally ill child no longer remain….but as parents of our other daughter Dempsey, combined with the bond and love over surviving the worst life has to offer will always be there. And hopefully, that will always be enough. :) x