Voices were raised, tears were falling, and the distance between us felt like a thousand miles—even though Drake and I were sitting feet away in the same room. This was familiar discord.
Conflict between us, as husband and wife, is certainly not uncommon. And to some outside observer this probably would have looked like any other strife that can create tension in a marriage. But this time it wasn’t. This was the conflict that taps into the deepest, rawest, most broken and devastated places in each of our hearts. This was the conflict that stems from our greatest wounds, especially as followers of Jesus who begged God to intervene in the heinous suffering of our boy. This was the conflict that arises between a couple that has walked through the death of their beloved child together.
What began as an innocent discussion about another family with a terminally-ill child, quickly turned sour when a statement was made that unintentionally pricked at the rawest wounds of loss, confusion, and pain for the other. Everything escalated from there as the sorrow in each of our hearts spilled out. The flood gates opened.
It is not uncommon to easily and unwittingly unearth one another’s brokenness over losing our son. Even as two people desiring to walk faithfully through the same loss, we have very different and distinct perspectives; those differences can feel isolating and distressing in our longings for somebody, especially our spouse, to understand our pain. And sometimes we simply hurt one another…deeply…even if unintentionally…in those most tender places of loss and struggle.
It has been over seven years since Jud died, but our marriage continues to bear the strains of losing our beloved son. There is no quick-fix for this pain; this heartache is part of the fabric of our lives and our relationship now. As much as we may long for resolution to this struggle, there is no easy answer this side of heaven. We’re dealing with the results of living in a broken world together. These are the ramifications of loss playing out in a marriage relationship. This is the reality of navigating deep pain from different perspectives.
Marriage is hard. Marriage after the death of a child can be incredibly hard.
But after the emotions flow, the tears fall, and the hurts are expressed, we gently land at the crossroads of God’s grace; we express our sadness, how sorry we are for one another’s loss, and our need to give each other the space to struggle.
Just as the conflict in marriage, after enduring the loss of a child, is very real, so must our enduring love for one another be real too.