Let’s Talk About Sex (and Grief) – Part 1

Understanding Grief / Understanding Grief : Litsa


Sex and grief. Grief and sex. They really aren’t words we lump together often. And yet, we get questions about this topic a lot. A whole lot. When I started researching this article and posted on social media asking for questions, thoughts, and feedback, it felt like I had opened the floodgates for people to share something that felt like a big, unspeakable secret. Grief impacts sex. Sex impacts grief. But how, when, and why is pretty hard to predict.

There is significant heterogeneity, as they like to say in mental health. It looks very different for different people. The research is nearly non-existent (now, to be fair, there is one book on the topic that I imagine may include some research called Living, Loving and Loss: The Interplay of Intimacy, Sexuality and Grief. Unfortunately, the cheapest available copy is $125 on Amazon so its contents remain a mystery to me). But we do have other research and the feedback from thousands of grievers we’ve worked with over the years.

What we hear from people, like so many things in grief, is both all over the map and has common themes:

Grief has ruined my sex drive and I have no idea how to get it back.

All I can think about is sex but I feel too guilty to act on it.

I’m having tons of sex and it’s great and I feel great about it.

I’m having tons of sex and it’s great but later I feel terrible about it.

I want to have sex but I’m worried I’ll regret it

I have a desire to have sex but have surging emotional responses when I do

Everyone has opinions about my sex and dating life now

My partner is grieving and has lost their sex drive and I’m trying to be patient but it’s really hard.

The circumstances of my loss mean that every time I try to have sex it is intensely triggering and I’m worried I’ll never be able to enjoy sex again.

And on and on and on.

Though we can’t break down all the possibilities for you when it comes to grief and sex, we can assure you that there is a lot that is in the range of “normal”. We can say with some confidence that . . .

  • You might lose your sex drive for a period of time.
  • You might gain a jet-engine powered sex drive for a period of time.
  • Your sex drive might not be impacted either way, but you might start having a range of new feelings about having sex.

I know, I know. That alone is not all that helpful. So let’s break it down a little bit further. Grief is a physical, emotional and cognitive experience. Sex is a physical, emotional, and cognitive experience. Layer those two things together and things get . . . complicated. There is no simple way to break this down, but when we look at the research and what people tell us and ask, using this dimensions to go step by step through some considerations is a good place to start.


The Physical

When your sex drive is in overdrive:

The pain of grief, though often thought of as an emotional pain, is also a deeply physical experience. And though we often distinguish physical and emotional pain, the brain is activated in VERY similar ways when we experience emotional pain as when we experience physical pain. One study even found that Tylenol could reduce emotional pain. Weird, right?! So, it is no surprise that when we are experiencing emotional pain, our brains will seek out ways to ease the pain response in the brain.

Having sex causes us to release feel-good neurotransmitters and pain-reducing hormones that can, at least temporarily, give us reprieve from the immeasurable pain or numbness. It can also simply be a meaningful physical connection with another human being at a time that can feel so isolating. As one WYG reader explained, “in those moments, all my anxiety, my PTSD, my insecurities, my loneliness– just melted away. I was able to be fully present, enjoying him and being together”.

And those good feelings aren’t even as temporary as you might think. One study at George Mason University found that people were still feeling higher levels of happiness the day after sex (and it didn’t matter whether the sex was particularly satisfying or if the person was in a relationship). People’s positive emotions, mood, and sense of meaning were on average increased the day after sex regardless.

When your sex drive disappears:

With all these feel-good, pain-reducing, mood-boosting benefits, then it might seem surprising that some people’s sex drive drops or disappears completely during grief. But as with many things in grief and neurology, there is rarely a single story. Grief can increase stress chemicals in the brain and, in some cases, can cause an onset of depression or exacerbate existing depression. Any of these things can physiologically make it harder to feel interested in sex or to get the same pleasure from sex.

One WYG reader shared a comment echoed by many, I am just never interested in sex now, it never seems appealing. Once I am actually having sex it does feel good and often makes me feel a bit better, but I really have to force myself”. From a strictly physical perspective, the interest just might not be there in the same way for you and that, at least for a period of time, is very normal.


The emotional and cognitive

When your sex drive is in overdrive

 Though the physical piece of having sex may be giving you a nice boost chemical boost, it is important to look at whether your thoughts and feelings are doing the same. We heard from many readers who said, “I had a lot of sex those first months/years and, though that’s not how I normally am, it was what I needed at the time and it really helped me through”. But just because your sex drive is up, that doesn’t mean your thoughts and feelings are aligned with that drive.

We had other readers say things like, I feel a deep desire to have but I feel so guilty  – like I am betraying my partner’s memory. Others said things like, “my desire to have sex is up, but I keep thinking that it is too soon, that I need to wait”. That might be a story you’re telling yourself, but it might be one that you are hearing from other people and that might be creating some feelings of shame.

One reader, whose sex drive was way up and who was finding great comfort and pleasure in sex, shared “a good friend . . . judged me harshly for dating when she thought it was too soon. My dating life then stayed undercover- I’d date people in a city 45 minutes away to avoid being seen”. Other people’s judgment can quickly have an impact on us, even when we otherwise felt good about the decision.

These thoughts and feelings can quickly diminish the benefits of sex, leaving one feeling badly about their urges and actions. So it can be helpful to explore those thoughts and feelings. There is no rulebook, no “right” amount of time, so part of the work of being comfortable if and when you decide to have sex is doing your own self-assessment. Though this post was about readiness to date, it may offer some insights that are also helpful when considering sex. And talking with a counselor can be a huge support in this. We’ll have a follow-up post coming on this topic, so please share in the comments if you have experienced this and how you have coped with these complicated thoughts and feelings!

When your sex drive is non-existent

The thoughts and feelings that come alongside a sex-driving disappearing can be wide-ranging. Perhaps the most common we hear from people is from those who are partnered and experiencing immense guilt. That guilt ranges from feeling like they are depriving their partner of sexual intimacy to guilt that their partners now may be taking it personally, thinking it is a loss of attraction or interest. But for those who have lost their sex drive, whether partnered or not, it can feel a deep loss of identity coupled with feelings of isolation.

For those who previously had a very active sex life, the loss of interest is its own loss. Grief, which can be a deeply isolating and lonely experience, can feel even more lonely and isolated when sexual intimacy is no longer an outlet.

Talking with your partner about this, if it is occurring, can be hugely helpful. Often partners struggle with feeling that the loss of interest is about them, even if rationally they know it is connected to grief. Reassuring a partner that it is not about them may help to both comfort them, but also assuage a small piece of the guilt. It can also allow for a space to better communicate about other types of intimacy that might work for both partners and allow for closeness and physical contact, even without sex.

It can also create a space to talk about or consider trying to have sex, even when you aren’t in the mood. Now, you should never have sex against your will (obviously), but sometimes the actually process of touch can get you in the mood when you weren’t previously. This is something that can be valuable to explore, if trying to get your sex drive back, but needs to be done with good communication.

Obviously we have only scratched the surface of this complicated topic, so please leave a comment with anything from your experience to questions and issues you would like to see in the next posts in this series!

Let’s be grief friends.

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26 Comments on "Let’s Talk About Sex (and Grief) – Part 1"

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  1. Adrian  July 14, 2021 at 9:00 am Reply

    I don’t know how to feel. I haven’t felt the urge to have sex in 11 years since my fiancée passed away. We were young and now that I’ve turned 31 I feel like there’s no point in even trying anymore, so even if I find someone attractive I stay as far away from them as possible. I’ve lost what I thought could be great friendships because I’m naturally a caring guy and they thought I was leading them on so eventually they stopped talking to me when they figured out I wasn’t going to make a move. Does this end? Is there any other male that has gone through this? I can’t find anyone who identifies with me and that’s almost as lonely as not having my partner.

    • Carly  July 24, 2021 at 2:57 pm Reply

      My son lost a baby and his girlfriend at the same time. He struggles with depression and hasn’t been involved with anyone since. He just works. He’s only 28. I wish he could talk with a counselor about his pain. I worry about him. I just want him to be able to move forward. I hope you do too.

  2. Peony Rose  June 20, 2021 at 3:53 pm Reply

    I lost my husband last march, I totally loved him and still do we didn’t have an amazing sex life a bit boring to be honest. However a neighbor a couple of doors away has visited in the evenings had drinks together a couple of times very very recently we ended up in bed together and I really enjoyed sex first time for years he came again the following evening and again was nice. I live in a road of terraced houses he comes when it’s dark and leaves before sunrise , we are hiding from neighbours and I find it really awkward but enjoying sex. I do feel guilty as it seems so soon after losing my husband and worry about what the neighbors will think of me if they see him coming and going. Also fear what my sons will think if they find out.

  3. Joe  March 16, 2021 at 12:28 am Reply

    Wow, I thought I must be the problem My wife passed away from a brain tumour that destroyed our life in 5 months. The grieving blurred from the diagnosis and the role of caring for her made this intense. Survivor guilt the lot. We had only been together for 8 years but we never had a fight we were just so well matched.
    Since her death, I am actually scared that falling in love again and having sex can result in this all-consuming pain. It’s heading for a year and everyone says she wanted me to move forward but in reality, it not only her it’s the feeling that I will never have such an intense love again and that the pain of grief is just too great. That being with someone else opens up that potential to have this grief again. People tell me that it will get easier with time – I just don’t believe them at all. I think the loss of a lover, partner and best friend can keep triggering the pain when you least expect it. The only reason to seek someone else is to combat the intense loneliness – I can be lonely even surrounded by people.

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    • Callie  May 2, 2021 at 8:29 pm Reply

      My husband died in 2018 leaving me with a son nearly five year old son that remembered his father as someone that cared. He blames me for his fathers death and not spending his last winter alive with his son and me. The August before the man my husband found I was in an affair with showed up just to talk because the last time they encountered each other, five years before. My husband put him in a ICU with nearly every bone above the waist broken, the left side of his skull fractured, All over the attempt to humiliate my crippled husband, by sweeping his cane then laughing about it asking me how had I ended up with my husband the looser. He return his red oak 4’4″ tall 13 pound dragon head toped cane like a spear to shatter the other mans skull.. I tried to stop an more damage as my husband used the furniture to drag himself and his legs over to the other man to administer his justice by using his fists to break bones while the other man laid knocked out on the floor.

      I called 911 and laid where my husband swatted me in anger to the other side of the room. The police picked my husband up off the floor took him to the regional mental health because it was the fourth time in a decade my husbands rights caused people to be sent to the hospital broken and bleeding He had lost the use of his legs in a MRSA infection and a stroke latter. It also set his Parkinsons up worse and other problems that had developed in the three years of rehab.

      When My affair partner showed up just to talk to me four years later where we moved in Wyoming. He was telling me his wife was going to reconcile with him and she stepped out of their car to have her say as we watched my husband leading the other horse pulling a travois with a large amount of dry food supplies.

      She actually walked up and hit me, As she lft to go back to the city My son came out at my urging to introduce him to my friend, When he showed up and realized Ii was going to talk to him, My husband told his son that he was to care for me got his horse and betty ready whil my friend did not want another bad encounter seeing my husband put his shotgun and 30 30 in sadle holsters then buckled himself into the leg braces, My friend knelt and asked how my son would like him around, Then my son kicked my friend in i the shins with his hard welligntons like his father wore. Told him that daddy left because he came, My best friend retired as a LPN came by from her house about 12 miles away and lite into me about letting my sick husband leave for the high range cabin his uncle left him, She had a heilo take her up there the nest week and decided to stay doing tellehealth sessions of the computers and solar and turbine generators my husband ad his uncle installed there befor his uncle died . my husband with vey little help made other changes like making the loft with a shower toilet and three bedrooms found a compressor in a buisness that was going bankrupt with a furnace and a frame to blow air out of a central vent in the high ceiling. It to worked on the abundance of electric power he had installed. I was thinking my friend who had been in love with my husband since he was out of the army and they had dated, I ad married my husband six years after while he had served in his second service the Navys submarine service, She told me after we met that his father and hers both objected to any relationship they might have developed.

      She spent the last nine months of my husbands life as his caretaker, Calling for the delivery of Parkinsons meds Anti clotting and nerve suppression as well as heart meds by over flight drops. She made sure that he did not go out and over do the hunting for extra proteins in turkey, grouse. and prairie hen there was a side of beef delivered butchered on a pallet with a deer my husband shot from the cabin deck. and sent for butchering and summer sausage It was the week after we went up to high range to see my husband and let his son see he still loved him, the look was horible my husband had lost over half his body my friend said he had stopped eating, barely drank any thing and spent most his time in a lounger he had found under the house in storage. My son was up there with his father scaring me to death as my husband showed his son the friend he had made of a golden Eagle with a 6 foot wing span when the bird started screaming and my son came down from the high deck by himself telling my friend and me that daddy fell off his seat and would not get up.

      Rigor had already started by the time we got up there. A army NG medical heilo was in the area and landed to collect my husband for a autopsy and cremation, My husband had already cut a place in the rock he wanted his ashes put over looking the mountains where the cabin was, my LPN friend and a locket containing his mothers ashes, He died very suddenly of a neural interruption to his heart, His funeral was arranged by his sister with four Helios landing outside the cabin three were army and one civilian The army reservs suplied a bugler and the honor firing squad the bought a Navy reserve chaplain and his union sent his locals chaplain that delivered the eulogy more tan a few friends and family of my husbands came up in three flights. The service included his horse Bart lead with backward boots in the saddle and the whole thing was surreal with the Eagle screaming at everyone over the area then flying off.

      I spent the rest of the summer and most of the fall there before going back to the canyon home leaving my LPN friend there because she loved it up there and started my son in nursery school in 2017, I came back to a property my husband owned in the mid west when my son start first grade, He hated the people there as much as my husband did so I went to my sisters property on the east coast in Virginia, where there was sun sand and beachs My son still felt he was in a world of snobs and he went through second grade with straight As so far on a tablet and a laptop, But he wants to go back to cattle, buffalo, and other creatures as well as his fathers two horses, to go where daddy is, so in the fall he’s going back t school in Wyoming hopefully not on a tablet.

      My husband died to better his life and I still can’t believe he felt that going to school with Cheyan indians and military was the best schools, to teach his son opposite the way his father wanted, to his grandson to be in the schools in the community my husband had retired in in the white community.

      My son already has friends out west, one that I worry will be his wife in the future who is a Cheyanne because every time we go back they are joined at the hip and with all the oil rigs and military around he will go to school with every race. and when he goes to college he will not care about his grandfathers ideals.

      I actually grieve for my husband because he wanted to see his son grow into being a man and have a wife that loved him and not the society we lived in more. My husbands fight with the society and his fathers racism was what kept us from having children far before we did and it took him forcing me into sex for that after 30 years married. I was 48 almost 49.

      He died leaving me with is son to raise

    • Carly  July 24, 2021 at 3:02 pm Reply

      Hi Joe, you don’t need another relationship to be happy. Give yourself time to heal. Pray, enjoy nature, exercise hard, eat well. Eventually, you will heal but not until you are ready to. Your heart will tell you when you are ready. Then, you will be able to give unconditionally to something or someone you love regardless of what the future will bring. Hang tough. You aren’t alone. Thinking about you. Carly

  4. Dixie Duke  March 6, 2021 at 7:21 pm Reply

    I definitely feel this. I lost my Mother over 40 years ago, and I dont feel like I ever grieved for her as a child. As an adult now, I realize this has affected my sex drive. I dont have a sex drive. I have a sex crawl. My wife is ready to leave me because of it. She just doesn’t understand and spent years thinking it was all about her, when it never was. When we first met, our intimacy was constant. Over the years, I feel my grief has crept in and has pulled me into a depression. Now that I am finally trying to address this, my marriage is falling apart.

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  5. Veronica Rodriguez  February 23, 2021 at 10:55 am Reply

    I’m 47yrs old, and lost my husband a yr ago we were together for more than 20yrs , and now I feel lost and lonely sometimes, we have 2 teens they keep me going, but I have no interest at all to find anybody. is that normal?

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  6. Gail  February 20, 2021 at 10:40 am Reply

    My husband died as a result of a heart attack. I did CPR. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. He made it to the hospital. The Doctors informed me that he was brain-dead. They as me if I would be willing to donate his organs. I agreed.

    I was re-traumatized by the cruelness/ inhumane treatment given to him as he was dying and the donation model.

    I became an advocate for changing the nursing care in the nursing unit where my husband died. I also advocated for changes to the organ and tissue donation program in this hospital. I was ruthless and I know how to advocate. I advocated for: my husband, myself, and the people coming after us. The trauma drove me. I was a pit bull. The hospital acknowledged the harm to my husband.

    Fast forward a year later, I was encouraged to date after forty years of marriage. I found someone very special and I am in love again with a good man. I do live with ongoing moments of grief and unresolved trauma which I try not to share with my new partner. I do not want to make him feel that I am conflicted because I am not.

    To my question.

    My new partner and I were making love; in a moment during our lovemaking, I had a flash of being with my late husband and then back to my new partner. It was jolting, very real and confusing. I have kept it to myself. I am trying to reconcile what happened.

  7. Louise  December 30, 2020 at 12:26 am Reply

    It’s been nearly 10 years since my husband lost his mother, very suddenly and unexpectedly. I understand that this could have had an impact on his sex drive but I didn’t expect it to last this long. We had a very good sex life but now he has no sex drive at all and i feel guilty and selfish for wanting sex but not just that, I thought we wanted to start a family but doesn’t look like that’s going to happen now so in a way I feel like I’m grieving that loss as well

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    • IsabelleS  December 30, 2020 at 3:41 pm Reply

      Louise, I’m very sorry to hear that you’re going through this. You are completely entitled to grieve this loss. Although it’s okay for your husband to grieve in this way, it’s also okay for you to be upset about it. Have you tried gently communicating your needs to your husband? All the best.

  8. Melissa  December 20, 2020 at 3:03 pm Reply

    I’m 58 and lost my husband of nearly 30 years, 3 years ago. Until he became sick (cancer), we had a fabulous sex life. He was my everything. I miss sex, but the thought of being intimate with someone else after all these years is terrifying to me. I have an old high school friend who has reached out to reconnect and a part of me yearns for this, but another part is afraid. I keep playing the “what if” inside my head. How do I ever make this first step of dating without my brain worrying about what sex with someone else will be like? I know I’m getting ahead of myself with these thoughts, but sex was a big part of my marriage. I could never understand how friends would tease me about it. With my husband I had no inhibitions. We had the perfect sex life. I guess that’s my fear. Can I have that freedom with anyone else? I’m afraid to try, but I don’t want to be alone the rest of my life. So I’m stuck. I cling to my grief out of fear of rejection. I cling to the fact that I had the one great love of my life that others never get. I push away chances to have any semblance of that again so I avoid hurt and pain. How do I move forward? It’s easier to post this here with strangers rather than talk with friends. They could never understand. They have their husbands…

    • IsabelleS  December 21, 2020 at 10:59 am Reply

      Melissa, I’m so sorry for your loss. Dating is always complicated, but especially so after having lost a significant other. It sounds like you and your husband had a very special relationship… It’s important to know that dating does not diminish this. I understand being afraid to put yourself out there. You may want to check out this article: https://whatsyourgrief.com/widow-dating-am-i-ready/ If you’re not ready, that’s okay… And if you are ready, that’s also okay! Best of luck.

    • Kathryn  January 2, 2021 at 8:04 pm Reply

      Melissa, your comments could be about my life. It hasn’t quite been 3 years since my husband of 31 years died. I have great friends and family and hobbies but I miss the intimacy. I joined a dating site (during a pandemic when I won’t actually even GO on a date, no less!) but I’m pretty anxious when I think about just going on a DATE yet alone getting intimate with someone else after being with one man for almost my entire life. I don’t have any answers but please know you’re not alone!

    • Erika  January 29, 2021 at 11:47 pm Reply

      Hi there, thank you for for writing this. I lost my husband to cancer recently as well and what you wrote resonated with me. I never want anybody else in my life but this being alone is daunting. To never be held again is also too sad as I am an affectionate person. I want my Colin to hold me, and make me laugh and secude me, like only he could even after 30 years of marriage. I hope I can learn to live with this.

      • Isabelle Siegel  January 31, 2021 at 11:12 am

        Erika, I’m truly so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you. I know it seems difficult to imagine, but you will learn to live with this pain. I hope this article and its comments have shown you that you are NOT alone. All the best to you.

  9. Pat  December 20, 2020 at 10:40 am Reply

    Appreciate the article and the comments. Intimacy is definitely a loss. I miss being close in bed, in the shower, sitting together, touching. Bonnie was my sweetheart for 30 years and I really do not have a desire for any relationship in the future. I had the best soul mate, lover, and waited 30+ years to find her. Sex was good, but there was more that made us happy. Appreciate the comments and advice.

    • IsabelleS  December 21, 2020 at 11:01 am Reply

      Pat, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your relationship with Bonnie sounds so special. You’re right–Intimacy is a major loss that is not talked about enough. It’s so okay if you don’t want a relationship in the future. Whether or not that changes is also okay. All the best.

  10. anon anon  October 26, 2020 at 9:35 am Reply

    Choosing not to share my own name for privacy’s sake. Two weeks after my husband of 26 years died i began having erotic dreams about him. it was like the worst mind fuckery possible as I was so overwrought with grief and had no idea what to do. About a year and a half later I began having sex regularly with a man I had no plans to have a “real” relationship with. Then, another man after him. Both men ultimately became friends since I was always honest about my lack of emotional availability. I can’t believe how much my libido has charged up. It’s a curiosity and the only regret or guilt I feel is that I did not have this much stamina and energy sexually speaking in the last years of my marriage. I still do grief work and am feeling all the difficult emotions that come with such a traumatic loss but the the rush of endorphins i get due to sex is so freeing and cleansing. I actually think my spouse would be delighted to know this is happening.

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  11. Gary B  October 25, 2020 at 5:43 pm Reply

    I lost my wife of 38 years 2 years ago and now at 66 I have my sex life well “in hand”. I gave it my all for my wife for 44 years (we were HS sweethearts- who reconnected my senior year in college) and have no desire to get into this messy game. I have no game left to give anyway so Its ok I am all good with it.

  12. Lou  October 25, 2020 at 1:39 pm Reply

    I waited a year after my husband died to choose a new life partner. During my year of grieving, I prepared myself for a new relationship by continuing my hormones and using my vibrator by myself. I was unsure of how my sexuality would be since I am 73 now. I already loved my new boyfriend before we became intimate and the chemistry was and is amazing. Loving someone really adds a lot to ones sex life. He loves me and we are committed to each other and our relationship.

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  13. Karen  October 25, 2020 at 1:33 pm Reply

    I, too have struggled with this issue. My husband and I were/are in our mid 60’s. We shared an intensely emotional, physical and satisfying relationship for over 20 years. He has been gone now for just over 9 months. I have found occasional experimentation with self pleasure helps. There is no guilt because there is no other/new partner and I know my husband would approve and be happy I have been able to find this outlet.

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  14. Nancy  October 25, 2020 at 9:15 am Reply

    This really resonated with me and my life experiences. I had not really thought about the link between grief and loss and sex, but it is real and painful and sad. For us, our sex life did not come back after multiple losses of my spouse’s family.

  15. douglas  October 25, 2020 at 3:01 am Reply

    Before my wife passed away we used to have great sex in the shower regularly.
    For two weeks after she died I would just be an emotional wreck every time I would step into the shower on my own . I have totally lost my drive and that’s ok. Sex is only one form of showing love to your partner and I have no desire after 3 years to find someone and remarry only to have sex. It is not important to me.

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    • Loralea  October 25, 2020 at 12:37 pm Reply

      I have no desire to have sex after I lost my oldest son to suicide. I felt so isolated in my grief right from the start. Seemed like I was the only one in the depths of unrelentless grief. I could see my youngest son experiencing some fairly major grief as he was self destructing a fair bit the first year. Drinking alcohol when he had never drank before. He missed his brother. So I wasnt completely alone. But other than that I didnt witness others struggling in grief like me. Seemed as though everyone just could move past it. My husband (not the biological father of my deceased son) made me feel guilty for not wanting sex. Last thing I needed on top of everything else. I thought to myself Im in the depth of grief and his needs matter? Its important for me to fill his needs? My grief needs were not being met as he was unable to see or care about that as he had never experienced a loss like I was experiencing. Made me feel sick to my stomach how shefish people can be. I have never been shelfish but I have learned to be for my own survival. I am still married. We dont have sex but sleep in the same bed. I take care of my 4 year old grandaughter and she gives me joy but thats it. I live for my grandaughter. Not sure what my future holds. One day at a time right now.

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      • Guenevere  December 1, 2020 at 3:53 am

        I so understand and relate to you. Only difference is I have the most amazing supportive partner who has had nothing but patience with me. Has supported me in every single way possible, right down to supporting myself and my children financially. He is 10 years my junior and I love him immensely but I just cannot be intimate anymore and it’s causing extreme guilt within me.

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