Sexual healing: Loss and grief, how it can impact your sex life - Evewoman
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Between The Sheets

Sexual healing: How loss and grief can impact your sex life

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In today’s world, one would be forgiven for feeling like sex in love, marriage and romantic relationships must always be nice and rosy to be considered good and healthy. Even from reading this column, you might be wondering why your sex life does not seem to match those that are discussed.

While I endeavour to convey information that causes you to weigh, evaluate and reach for your best and highest sex life, I think it would be a good idea to talk about the seasons of love and sex where loss is concerned.

While reading about other people’s seemingly wonderful relationships – and I do hope and believe they are there – have you considered that some of the issues showing up in your bedroom are simply as a result of being in a different season?

Loss is one of those seasons. Why don’t we look at it, how it can impact your relationship and sex life, and how to navigate through it honestly and compassionately with yourself and your partner?

Loss in different forms

Loss is one of the most common seasons in any relationship. You may have lost a pregnancy, an older child, a spouse, sibling, parent, grandparent, in-law, friend or other person who meant a lot to you.

Those are the more ‘obvious’ losses; death. How about the loss of a dream e.g. a failed IVF procedure, a business, friendship or other meaningful relationship? ‘At least’ with death, there is a societal acknowledgment of that loss.

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There is also a clearer demarcation of who/what was there, and who/what is now gone.

The reality, however, is that a loss is a loss. I’m sad to say but some of you seem to treat the loss of unborn children as lesser losses than those of living children. Anyone who has suffered a miscarriage, a failed IVF treatment, still birth or other loss would tell you that the heartbreak is no less than that of a living child.

This same unhelpful and untrue theory seems to apply to losses of friendships, where it seems as if you’re over-reacting by feeling the hurt deeply. Kindly stop trying to diminish the depth of your pain and begin to acknowledge it.

What to do: With regard to your sex life, the answer is “nothing that you don’t want to”. Sex requires physical and emotional vulnerability.

Loss creates vulnerability that can feel like it is beyond your comprehension. Combining the two can therefore feel like too much to handle.

If this is you, then allow yourself the space to take sex off the proverbial table. Instead, you can spend some time attending to your needs and your pain.

Understand that you are grieving

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the steps of which are denial, bargaining, anger, depression, forgiveness and acceptance. Furthermore, because grief is a processes and processes take time, allow yourself the necessary time to feel your loss as you figure out how to move forward and what to do with it. On the other hand, some of you may experience an increased sexual appetite.

In fact, you may find that all your appetites are increased; you’re eating, sleeping and desiring sexual contact more than is usual for you. If this is you, understand that this is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.

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I say this because some of you add on to your troubles the burden of feeling as if you must be stuck on the sadness of grief in a way that makes sense on the outside so I hope that you can hear me when I say that an increased sex drive is simply your subconscious need for connection and ‘aliveness’ (death is especially notorious for causing us to feel like a part of us had died with the person that has gone before us).

Don’t suppress your sexual appetite

Allow it. Indulge in it. Sex is good for you (as we discussed in last week’s article) and has many benefits to you. These benefits may be more critical to you now more than ever.

The only caveat I will add is that if your grief is causing you to behave in a way that violates your own sense of right and wrong e.g. indiscriminate, risky sexual behaviour, then I would strongly encourage you to seek the support of a mental health professional; be sure to confirm that they are well-versed in grief counseling.

Don’t use sex as a numbing tool

It cannot and will not take away your pain, no matter how much you hope that it will. That would simply be beyond its capabilities.

Sex’s role is not to numb but to awaken you; your pain, your loss, your sense of being alive and ultimately your core. It is likely to bring your pain to the surface, which may hurt more in the beginning but will ultimately be the way through which you grieve and then choose how to live meaningfully with the loss.

If you’re reading this and you’re connecting to it because of your own loss, that of your partner or someone else, I grieve with you and send you my heartfelt condolences. What you are going through may be hell right now but it will not last, and you do not need to go through it alone.

With regard to its impact on your sexual desires, fantasies, joys or connection, allow yourself to feel your feelings and honour yourself and your body by taking some time off of it or indulging in it as one of the many options available to you. Whatever you choose, I wish you peace and love as you process your loss. 

 

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