One thing I noticed in reading about my new role as “widower” is how little the subject of the lost intimacy is treated. It is not THE most prominent facet of my grief, but it is way up there, and I don’t think I’m abnormal. Why so little information regarding how others have dealt with this? Is it taboo to speak of these things?
Kim and I enjoyed a frequent and regular intimate life – as, I would expect, most married couples our age do. We weren’t like foaming-at-the-mouth honeymooners in our intimacy, but we did enjoy each other. And we knew each other and what we responded to, and how we responded to it. We had the consideration that comes with a decades-long relationship to take the care and the time needed to ensure each was satisfied.
And intimacy is more than just sex. Holding each other closely is also intimacy. Coming up behind your partner as they are doing something and giving a warm hug around the waist and a kiss on the neck is a form of intimacy. Knowing what your partner is thinking and responding to it is a form of intimacy. There is so much that is now lost! Over 30 years of learning some (because you can never know all…) of what makes each other “tick”.
But the loss of sexual intimacy is an important aspect of my grief. The urges are still there, but there is nothing to satisfy them – like the phantom pains of an amputated limb that you cannot relieve. For a couple of weeks after Kim passed – and a week or so before she passed – the thought of sex was a constantly recurring, nagging urge that tormented me, particularly at night, but also in the morning.
We had not had relations since before the Folfirinox failed, when she still “felt good,” but Kim was still there – we could talk, hold hands, hug, kiss… The thought of anything more at the time, at least to my mind, was tempered with the nature of Kim’s disease as it evolved: it would be painful for her. The pressure in her abdomen from the tumors and the ascites. Lymphedema, too, causing swelling and pain in her limbs and back. The thought of such contact really did not occur during this period. So, I had a time of conditioning that one would think may have tempered that part of my grief. So why the ferocious “need”? The human mind is a fascinating, but scary thing.
To those treading these same waters, there’s hope: it passes. At least it seems to have for me. It is now just over a month since Kim left, and, about a week ago, I noted that that particular torment seems to have subsided. I still have moments where I can think of little more, but they are just passing thoughts, much as normal males experience under ordinary conditions. I did not have to go out and “find another partner” as some would tell you to do. It just calmed; it passed.
It very well may recur, but now I have the armor of knowing that it does resolve without any form of intervention. Hopefully, this discussion can serve to give you similar armor.