Friday 22 February 2013

Grief and Sex

Over two weeks ago a very close family member died unexpectedly and under difficult circumstances. It has been an awful couple of weeks and it will continue to be so for many months, if not years. I have had some strong sexual reactions to my loss and I thought it would be useful to write them down because writing is how I process. Then I googled sexual reactions to grief and was dismayed. Most articles claim that sex drive decreases with grief, especially among women. A few places recognize that hypersexuality is a reaction, but there is very little about it as a positive force, or indeed about engaging with it when it is a response. This is nonsense! I believe that as long as a grieving person (me!) is not being destructive and is not doing anything to harm herself or others, then she is grieving appropriately.

I heard about my loss at 11pm while I was at a friend’s two hours from where I live with my husband. I had to get home to him, get my transport arrangements sorted to get back to my family, pack, and try to get some rest before leaving to go home to my family all in the space of seven hours. The only reason that I did not have sex was because of the time, but my libido went through the roof.

My mind is what you might call overactive, or at the very least easily distracted. Even during sex my mind wanders onto random things. There are only two moments where my mind cannot be distracted without major effort on someone else’s part: when I am having an orgasm or in subspace. Herein lies my reaction to sex the last fortnight. I have been rather needy for sex, and of course I have snuggled and been intimate, but I have not wanted slow, romantic lovemaking. What I have wanted is the intensity of D/s lovemaking or D/s fucking.

My husband is also grieving and his initial reaction was not sexual. But my desire felt so strong that I even considered contacting my old Dom, James, for sex, or asking hubby if I could have a session with him, or somehow pursue a sexual situation in some way. But, this would have been damaging and destructive. Being intimate with James would have been a short-term fix for a long-term problem and the fix would have caused a whole heap of other problems. I am grieving, I am not capable of making decisions that will affect my future and I have to recognize that. Luckily I did realize that! I also realized that sex was not a need in the short term, but also that it was perfectly fine to want nothing more than to be dominated to the extent that I could find calm in a subspace. But that had to happen within my existing safe and happy relationship structure.

Last night my husband and I had sex again for the first time since our loss. It was the first time we both felt comfortable with what the other wanted and needed. It was romantic, gentle, soft, kind, loving, and involved him giving me commands. I didn’t reach a subspace but I had wonderful orgasms as he came down my throat, my mind and my body and my heart were free with the person I love. Performing sexual acts while grieving should not be something to be ashamed of, but it somehow seems to be seen as such by many.

As people we are physical, mental, and if you think that way also spiritual beings. In order to be complete people our hearts, our bodies, and our minds need to be connected. We need to be able to release our energy in the ways we need to in order to find balance again. A major hole in my world has been made, my balance has been broken and it feels like hell. I am having nightmares, my appetite is off whack, my brain feels like sludge and I burst into hysterics at random times, but at other times everything feels like nothing has happened. I know this is all normal. I am in the early stages of grief, it will take a long time to process what has happened. There will be many changes to my needs and desires. I need to be gentle on myself. I need to let my energies come out because bottling them up will lead to disaster. If some of these are sexual energies and involve begging my husband to fuck my mouth then that is necessary too.



This post vaguely meets the prompt for the Thirty Days of Kink meme, Day 30: Whatever BDSM/kink related thing you want to write about.


  1. When my mother passed away sex with my husband was what I clung to. It enabled me to feel something other than the shock of her being gone. I might add she lived 20 feet from us so the constant view of her house was heart wrenching. Despite having 3 sisters this connection with my husband was my most important because like me he had been intimately involved in caring for my mom with me for the last 5 years. Something my sisters never had time for. So I don't think sex is a bad thing at all during grief. I think it gives us the ability to release so many emotions we may keep bottled simply because we have to be strong for everyone else.

    1. Living so close to the house must have been difficult. I cannot imagine.

      Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your own story. It means a great deal to me.

  2. I also clung to sex as a solution to get my brain to quiet for just a moment. I needed those rare moments of sanity. Sadly my lover of the time didn't respond well, his words were: "I'd rather you drink or do drugs like your sister than touch you." He was in mourning too, but it was my family member and I needed his support. In therapy, I was called a sex addict for wanting the comfort of another human being, even though I did not seek out others, even though I was still functioning in spite of this horrible denial, lack of support from anyone else (even my long term lover), and being hit with grief for someone so close to me who died in my arms unexpectedly.
    Those were dark days. I sought out an addiction counselor, believing the therapist. The addiction specialist called the therapist wrong, helped me see what I wanted was normal and not dangerous. She helped me get a new, supportive therapist to help me cope with PTSD. I eventually left that lover, after making sure that it was not a grief-ridden decision, waited a year and tried to stay in love. To be so mean and cruel, constantly, while I was in mourning was beyond forgiveness. I deserve better.
    It still amazes me how people see wanting to be intimate, to have the brief intermissions of quiet and love and physical release, as something negative if it's done with grief. I am glad you posted about this, and know that the research that is out there, the people that may not understand, are wrong. Only you know what you need, only you can find that unique solution to dealing with your own grief. As long as no one is hurt, as long as you function and carry on, you are doing an amazing job and will get through this. I am grateful that your husband is supportive, that the two of you found that compromise of what you both need, to help each other through this. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't envious.

    1. Your post made me cry, both because of your kind words and in empathy. Thank you for sharing your story. It makes me feel sad for you but also very grateful that I have my husband and also that I got rid of my crap therapist before he became destructive (there is a post on this blog somewhere about that).

      I hope you have been able to work through the grieving process and have found some inner calm again. I know it will still take me a long time, but I know that it will happen because of the support I have.

  3. Many years ago, a very good friend of mine died of AIDS. He was back in South Africa at the time of his death. We heard about it roundabout 3am in the morning. My first reaction was sadness. I cried a lot. Within the hour we were making love. I was incredibly horny and just had to have sex. I felt ashamed afterward but when I spoke to someone about it, she said she had heard about it more. Apparently with some people it's a natural reaction, because you want to feel that you are alive. I never thought about it again, until my mother-in-law died almost two years ago. I had exactly the same reaction.

    Just go with all your emotions hun. What you are going through is terrible. Allow all the emotions and work through your grief. It will get better.

    Sending you lots of love and hugs!

    Rebel xox

    1. Thanks Rebel, it really is all about working through grief and the letting all the emotions come out when they need to and not constantly trying to be "strong". Strength is accepting yourself and your feelings.

      Thanks for the hugs!

  4. i'm so sorry for your loss. *offers love and hugs*

    Thank you for sharing this; i too am someone who tends to react to various overwhelming emotions with a desire for sex. i find it can offer me a release that nothing else can. i'm someone whose mind is constantly active, and i'm not e.g. a big drinker; but sex can reduce my rumination at least temporarily, and give me a break.

    i very much agree with you: there are many different ways people cope with, and process, grief; and unless a given response involves more than simply upsetting someone's sensibilities, "[p]erforming sexual acts while grieving should not be something to be ashamed of".

    Alexis / @flexibeast.

    1. Hugs gratefully accepted.

      Sex is exactly that, a break. I can get a semi-break from other things. I love puzzling and handicrafts, but I have to do something else at the same time (watch DVDs, listen to the radio), to fully quell my mind. Normally I don't mind, but at times like this it sucks.

      Thanks for your kind words, fab as always! (Also, I love how nerdy you were with the "[p]".)



  5. This is a beautiful and touching post. Although this has not been my own reaction in the past, it makes perfect sense that it would give you the mental release from the grief that you feel, and perhaps allow you to face the grief from a stronger place afterward.

  6. Thank you, this was so touching, and very brave of you to be so honest.
    Everyone has 'coping mechanisms' when they suffer emotional turmoil. You are quite right, as long as this isn't destructive then there shouldn't be a problem, the brain copes with these things the best way it can. I think it's healthier to look for an escape where you feel safe and loved in the D/s side of your relationship. Other people may turn to more destructive behaviour, such as drinking, or unsafe sex. You should not be ashamed of this and bravo for sharing something so intimate.

    Mia x

  7. Such an intense topic...and one that could use some discussion. I agree...that we all express and deal with our grief differently. While I usually go the way of the mainstream here and lose my libido in times of grief or stress, I have had those moments when the escape and comfort of sex transports me away from the intensity of those other more negative feelings.
    Thanks for writing about this.

  8. I agree. I recently lost someone close to me, and some people tried to make me feel guilty that my sex drive hadn't diminished. But I don't know, sex is soothing.

  9. Thank you for normalizing this grief response! I was drawn to your article because I also become hypersexual (more so than I already am) when I'm grieving--often during a breakup but also due to other types of loss. About four months ago, a male friend of mine was going through a breakup and also felt incredibly horny, which I was able to explain to him was a manifestation of grief. I spoke with a friend who is working on her graduate studies in counseling, and she told me that any type of way we express ourselves energetically may manifest more severely when we're grieving, and because I am a very sexual person, it wouldn't be unusual for me to become more sexual in those kinds of circumstances. Sex is a big part of our life force, it makes us feel good--why wouldn't we desire it when we're suffering?

  10. When my father was sick last year, my libido went into overdrive. We were also moving into a new home, and our finances were taking a big hit with both situations going on. But because sex for me was the complete opposite of anything that was going on, I wanted more of it. Just for those moments have my brain blank of everything. But my husband couldn't handle all of it. Thankfully, we had our agreement in place. When my father passed, it hurt, but it was something that I knew was coming. About two months afterward, I began taking lovers to satiate my growing sexual appetite. I feel that the grief of my father's passing began accelerated the urge; but he was also the only person who I cared about knowing my indiscretions. With him at peace, I didn't feel guilty talking or fucking other men (my husband gave me full permission), and what may have started as a way to grieve led me a new wave of experiences I can't see myself regretting. I'm not self-destructing; I am the happiest I've been in a long time. I have never been able to express this, so I am glad to have found your blog with a topic that is so closely hidden in my heart. xxx