Two months after my husband and I got married we found out our 1 year old daughter had kidney cancer. On July 24, 2011 Alexia was diagnosed with stage 4 Wilms Tumor (kidney cancer). At this time we were living in California. I was working and going to school and My husband had just graduated and started working in his career. We both decided we needed to quit both and be there for her and each other. We lived at Lucille Packard for a month so she can get treatment. We sent Adam to live with my mother in law in Texas and we had planned on moving there as soon as she was done with radiation. It was hard being away from him so a month after he was there I decided I would make the move and Anthony would stay with Alexia for the remainder of her radiation treatments. Emotionally it was one of the hardest things I had to do. I never wanted to leave her but Adam needed me. After 3 weeks my husband and Alexia made the move and our family was complete. We took her to Dells Children’s Hospital for the remainder of her chemotherapy. After 7 months of the emotional rollercoaster and big changes Alexia was down to her last chemo. Sadly we lost her that week before she went in for the final chemo.
Statistically 80% of married couples who lose a child get divorced. I feel that my husband and I are at a place where we have survived this statistic. I will have to admit it was not easy because we both grieved differently and within our first year of marriage our Alexia was diagnosed and we lost her. I wish someone gave me some advice from the beginning on what to do but what we went through is not something every parent goes through. So here is the best advice I can give to you and your spouse.
Everyone grieves differently and there is no wrong way to grieve. You may know everything about your significant other likes, dislikes, pet peeves etc… but grieving is something you learn about them at the time it is happening. The best thing you can do is accept the way they grieve and when they are grieving be the shoulder they cry on. Give them their time to let it all out and don’t take that moment from them. Say positive things about memories and how great they are. Remind them how much the one you lost loves them and how lucky they were to have them in their life. It is ok to cry together but keep a positive mindset. NEVER criticize them on how they grieve that is the biggest mistake and may cause a huge rift in your marriage.
Communicate your feelings with your spouse and listen when they communicate to you. Some days are better than others but when you are feeling emotional talk about it. You are not going through this alone and sometimes you just need to talk about it so the emotions don’t build up.
There will be times when you or your spouse do not feel like talking and this is normal. You must respect his or her decision and they must respect yours. BUT you will need to have the talk later in order to respect his or her wishes and be there emotionally. A way you can express that you are not in the mood to talk is by saying “I am sorry but I am not in the right mood to talk about _______ right now can we talk later?”
Sometimes you may or your spouse may just want some space and that is ok. All it takes is simple communication to express that. Saying “I would like to be alone right now” in the sincerest form is the best way to get that across. If your spouse asks for it give it to them. When they return back that means they are ready for some company. They may or may not want to talk about their thought so just ask “Are you ok?” that is a good ice breaker to see where their head is at. Space is healthy but do not isolate yourself from your spouse. Show them more love than ever. Your actions will let them know you will always be there no matter what you two are going through. Remind them how much they make you happy.
It’s ok to laugh and smile.