Grief Counseling For Couples Who've Lost A Child: The Do's And Don'ts Explained

Losing a child is often the most devastating experience any couple can share. While some couples become closer after the loss of a child, many find themselves drifting apart for any number of reasons. Couples grief counseling for bereaved parents may be the solution if your relationship has suffered after the loss of a child. Here are a few "do's and don'ts" your counselor may suggest:

1. Do Bridge the Communication Gap

After the loss of a child, it's not uncommon for one or both partners to refuse to talk about their feelings. This lack of communication is often what destroys a marriage. Shutting your partner out often leads to feelings of resentment and hurt. It's healthier to air your grievances so you may move on and get past the hurdles.

During a couples grief counseling session, your therapist may demonstrate ways to communicate openly and honestly with your partner. For instance, he or she may suggest you set aside a designated time each day when you can sit down and talk. Making time for each other is important. Also, don't look away or become distracted as you talk to your partner. Your counselor is likely to stress the importance of making eye contact as you speak to your partner.

As a rule, communication shouldn't be attempted when one or both of you are angry. Doing so may cause you to say things you may regret later. Instead, walk away calmly and allow yourself a "cooling down" period so you may clear your mind. When you return, you are likely to see things more clearly.

2. Don't Blame Yourself or Your Partner

After the loss of a child, it is not uncommon for one parent to blame the other. This may be expressed through an accusatory tone or attitude, or it may be done subconsciously. Conversely, blaming yourself can also place strain on your marriage. Feelings of guilt may make one feel unworthy of a partner's love, thus causing a marriage to crumble from the impact.

Couples grief counseling may help both sides recognize this destructive behavior, due to self-blame or otherwise. The counselor will help the person take ownership of those negative feelings. Additionally, both sides may be given the opportunity to share how they feel, either as the person being blamed or the one who has been "pointing the finger".

The counselor may suggest ways to stop laying blame on yourself or your partner. Talking about the circumstances surrounding the loss of your child may help put things into perspective, thereby stopping the pattern of blame. The counselor may also suggest a role play or role reversal session.

Through role reversal therapy, the couple will adopt opposite roles. Acting out your partner's behavior and attitude may help you see things from his or her point of view. This may also help the blaming partner see how damaging those actions can be.

3. Do Rely on Others for Support and Strength

Leaning on each other for strength through this traumatic time is important, although it may not be enough. Gaining insight from friends, family and through therapy can be a great advantage. Both partners may benefit from an "outsider's" point of view. It's also helpful to seek support from others who have experienced a similar loss.

If you feel your relationship is taking a turn for the worse after the loss of your child, don't be afraid to reach out to others. Professional help from a trained adult counseling professional may be a positive step in the right direction. Ask your primary care physician to recommend an experienced couples grief counselor, then interview the therapist during a "get acquainted" session.