Sex and Grief

by Laura

I don’t have to ask if there’s a relationship between sex and grief. There is, in the same way it affects other appetites (Some people have to force themselves to eat after experiencing a loss, while others can’t seem to stop themselves. Some turn to alcohol, while others completely abstain.) It’s not surprising, if you think about it. But who would want to? It’s an uncomfortable topic, one I wasn’t sure I’d ever address. But it’s there.

I’ve seen it in movies. High Fidelity comes to mind, where an estranged couple reunites, at least physically, after the woman’s father dies. I’ve seen it on the internet, mostly from shy younger adults asking Yahoo Answers if they’re normal or weird because they’ve been banging like bunnies after their favorite relative died. And I’ve seen it in my own life. Sex and grief, while uncomfortable, hush-hush subjects, are intertwined.

For some, death puts the drive on hold. Maybe they think their loved one is watching them. Perhaps the thought of having fun, of experiencing pleasure when someone has recently died, is upsetting. Others seem to want to creep forward while barely living at all, taking no joy in food or sex or any other basic part of life. They’re stuck, temporarily, in the grave. None of these reactions seems odd to me.

And for others, death kicks the drive into high gear. This response also makes complete sense. In fact, there are probably too many justifications than are possible to list here. They may seek distraction, to escape. They may crave pleasure and comfort. There can be an urge to get as much out of life as possible, to get it while you can. They may want to make a connection with someone and hold on for dear life in a fragile world. There could also be a subconscious desire to repopulate the earth, a lose-one-make-one mentality. Still others may choose to engage in reckless behavior, even going so far as to cheat or have unprotected sex, because life seems short and meaningless, so who cares. It all makes perfect sense.

And it doesn’t even have to go one way or the other. Grief may affect you one way at one time in your life and differently at another. Your age and the loved one in question probably make a difference. I doubt anyone has studied these things, but they probably should. I wonder, for instance, if there is an actual spike in fertility associated with grieving. I would guess there is, but I’m not a scientist. The fact that, after 7 years of infertility, I was knocked up within 6 months of my father in law’s death makes me wonder. Even though stress is supposed to hinder fertility, it would make sense to me if the opposite were true in the case of grief. Again, the lose-one-make-one theory.

I can’t find any studies on the subject. If you google “grief” and “fertility,” you’ll find a lot of sites discussing the feeling of grief that comes with infertility. But mostly what you’ll find if you delve into the two subjects are sites talking about healthy and unhealthy ways to deal with grief (lay off the drugs and the reckless one night stands) and how to support your grieving partner (don’t push for sex). Frankly, I wouldn’t bother searching for info on the subject, if you haven’t already. There are lots of posts by women who’ve lost their cat, slept with their neighbor and are wondering if they’re slutty (kinda, yeah).

The main point here is that your sex life may be affected by grief, and that’s to be expected. Whether you want to or don’t want to, you’re probably very normal, so don’t beat yourself up over it. Just like with eating, if you aren’t doing it, try to nibble here and there until your appetite comes back, and if you’re doing entirely too much of it, slow down, focus on smaller portions and better quality ingredients. Things will return to normal eventually.

For more information about sex and grief and why you’re normal, click here… Even More Sex And Grief And Why You’re Normal