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Sexual Bereavement: What Happens when a Lover Dies? (part 1)

A while ago I read an account of a man absorbed in early morning love making. The warmth of the sun's rays piercing the diaphonous curtains. The sensuality of his lover's body, warm and pliant to his touch, the sweet smell of her hair, her sigh as he pressed her against his chest. The tenderness, rhythm, and ecstacy of their embrace settling into wonder and delight. Leaving their crumpled sheets, the lovers share a playful breakfast, teasing and touching each other as they eat in the sunshine on the balcony. They spend the day that follows at the beach, body surfing in the tumbling waves. But the sea does not share their love and smashes the woman against the sand breaking her back. The day ends with the man crumpled over his lover's body in a hospital where they have fought in vain for his beloved's life.

It hurts even to read this – the visceral cruelty of death as it confiscates life's sensual wonder in an instant. The palpable agony reaching out of the page to grab at the heart with cold fingers that burn and sear. It's hard to imagine how desparingly bereft this man feels and how utterly terrifying his journey forward must be. For many who have found themselves in his shoes, suicide feels like an option – dispensing with the corporeal structure as death has dispensed with his darling. Others fling themselves into the animated embrace of other bodies – searching for the beloved in the sexual flesh of those still living. There's no judgement here. How can there be? For anyone who finds themselves on this path, it is uncharted territory, the compass is broken and the map dispoiled. That's not to say that they will not encounter hecklers, those neighbours peering through curtains and tut tutting at the string of late night strangers, or the well-meaning aunty urging a new spouse on the broken hearted – 'but it's been a year...', 'but it's been ten years...', 'but it's been fifteen years...'.

Everyone navigates their journey through grief differently. Even for those who have a strong sense of the spiritual continuation of their beloved, the loss of the physical company of their lover – the daily intimacies and the shared ecstacy – wreaks havoc on their sense of orientation and groundedness in the world.

In a culture repleat with overt sexual references, we are remarkably reluctant to speak the pain of sexual bereavement. Healing comes when we are able to express ourselves fully, naming what has been lost. The authenticity and emotional honesty that the Grief Recovery Method invites, creates a hallowed place to bring our most intimate and treasured memories of the love we have shared with someone who has died.

If you have experienced sexual bereavement and would like to know how the Grief Recovery Method could help you find healing after the death of an intimate partner, book a free Grief Relief session with me.

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