Dear Mr. Dad: Our little five year old daughter passed away recently. My wife and I are both struggling with grief and it is causing distance between us. We barely speak and when we do, it’s just to argue. Now I’m worried about losing our marriage as well. How can we get through this pain and keep it together?
A: I am deeply sorry for your loss. The death of a child must be one of the most painful experiences anyone—especially a parent—can have, and the repercussions can challenge even the strongest of marriages. If you haven’t already done so, it’s important that you and your wife find a counselor who has experience working with parents who have lost children. For the rest of this column I’m going to share some of the advice I heard from experts in this area, including Melanie Davis, who wrote about losing her 7-month old daughter to SIDS in
Since your loss is recent, you’ll most likely experience what some in the bereavement world refer to as the Seven Stages of Grief: Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, acceptance and hope. (These are similar to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s five stages, which applied to people coping with their own impending death.)