We were married six years before we lost Matthew. Six glorious years of not knowing what it felt like to lose a child, our child.
We had no idea that July 2, 2005, would change us forever. Individually and together. It would change everything.
When we lost Matthew, we lost ourselves. We lost each other. We lost our marriage as it was.
Not a great thing to write or read, but it is the truth about our marriage after loss.
In our first six years of marriage we were so in love with each other, the persons that fell in love together, the persons that dreamed together and built a home together. We were in love with each other, the persons that we were.
When we lost our son, those persons left us.
Those persons were no longer there, the shell was, but those persons were gone.
We all know that loss changes lives, but we have to acknowledge that when individual lives change, the dynamic as a married couple will follow.
Without a certain point of grace, marriages are easily broken, not because love is gone, but because loss is present. And with loss present and individuals changing, letting go of a spouse could become second to letting go of your child.
It happens all too often.
The evolution of whom one becomes after losing a child is quite different than the person he or she was before loss.
If we all married the guy we dated when we were 16, where would we be? We change. We grow up. We have a new set of eyes at the tender age of 21 and our boyfriends are still acting like they are 18. Big difference here guys, sorry, but that's the gospel. We grow into different people as life changes.
We see and feel things we never would have felt at 16.
Why? Because somewhere along the road, life happened and it changed us.
The death of a child changes the friend you are, the sister you are, the mother you are, the wife you are, the dreamer you are, the everything you are! It changes your spouse too!
When you and your spouse create life together and then that life, part of you both, is taken away and has been given the sentence of death, together, you die a little too.
It is never the same, but I can tell you it has the potential to be better than ever before if God is at the center of your heart, your home and your marriage.
It takes work, a lot of work.
But before work it takes the acceptance of each other as the person they have become after loss. This is a big one! You also must first accept who you have become after loss before you will be able to accept love from your spouse. It is difficult to accept love if you do not feel worthy of love. You must love yourself after loss, and with guilt, pain and grief, that is difficult to do. It is important to understand that your spouse is feeling that too. Accepting each other after loss is critical.
We suffered life altering changes with the death of our son and through many shed tears and prayers, we are better today than we ever were. We learned what love really is...(read that here.)
The following words had an entirely different meaning to us after Matthew passed..."Til' death do we part."
Death, death of our son could have ripped us apart, but God scooped us up, gave us the grace and the strength to do this, together. And we are.
Forever, til' death do us part.