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Let’s talk about grief and sex

Has grief impacted your libido? Find out why.

Sex is a massive part of life, yet we don’t hear the impacts of grief and our libido talked about enough. So we asked our listeners to share their experiences and thoughts on loss and sex, and the responses were so varied. Some people couldn’t think of anything worse, but for others it was a much-needed escape. 

Some of the responses our community shared were:

❤️‍🔥 “My new partner is pressuring me to get ‘into the mood’. He can’t fully understand my grief.”

❤️‍🔥 “I’m simply surviving – it’s the last thing I think about.”

❤️‍🔥 “My sex drive has increased – I enjoy the feel-good hormones!”

So, what’s going on when it comes to grief and our sex drive? Why do some of us want sex after a loss, and some of us go completely off it? We asked our good friend and Psychotherapist Meghan Riordan Jarvis, and she said…

“When someone we love dies, the amygdala enlarges in response to the trauma. Part of the limbic system, the amygdala, activates the flight and freeze, which keep us alive. Still, a side effect of that enlargement is that the rest of the normal messages that are typically delivered as regularly as the daily post suddenly end up at the wrong house! Sexual desire is believed to be housed in the hypothalamus and is one of the parts of the brain that experiences irregular mail delivery after a trauma. 

Some people get more mail than usual and might find they are filled with sexual desire, while others get no mail for months or even years. Another thought about sexual desire is that it is at the root of procreation and the survival of our species. Some believe that the instinct to have sex is stronger to combat the threat of death and embrace life.

Many of my clients have reported wanting the physical escape of sex (this is well acted by Halle Berry in Monster’s Ball after the death of her son. While others want to combat the intense sense of aloneness through intimate connection. 

The actor Rob Delany writes a beautiful scene about how he and his wife have sex three times as they are waiting for their young son’s brain surgery to be completed). The writers Rebecca Wolf (All There Is) and Melissa Gould (Widowish) write frankly about their natural desire for sex never waning, instead reawakening or increasing. This is less talked about than the fact that many, many people report having absolutely zero sex drive for months or years. Both are normal responses to grief.”

So there you go, there’s no right or wrong way. If you want to hear more on this topic and more advice from our community on grief and sex, listen to this episode.

As always, thank you for reading – we appreciate you.

Sal and Im x

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