The mind and body aren’t always in agreement. Someone grieving the death of a beloved partner can be gobsmacked by sexual arousal. Such unexpected, often unwanted feelings in the peak of grief trigger shock and shame, further traumatizing the grief-stricken.
Humans are complicated creatures, as author and expert on senior sexuality Joan Price so aptly demonstrates in her newest book, “Sex After Grief.”
“It’s time to talk out loud about sex and grieving,” she writes. “There are many books about grief after loss of a beloved, but they almost never talk about sex.”
Price consults experts in the field of grief as well as those grieving the loss of partners for materials for this book. She also draws from her research as well as her Grief Journal and her Memory Journal that she kept after losing her husband, the love of her life found later in life. She delivers a small, special gift to those attempting to reconcile warring emotional and physical responses during bereavement. What may seem like chaos is natural and normal, she reassures those in the throes of great emotional tumult.
Price, 75, lost her husband Robert Rice in 2008 and spent several years not just grieving but learning about loss and grief. She had four grief counselors throughout her journey from someone rocked by devastating loss to a generous and compassionate sage.
A knowledge of grief along with her expertise in the field of senior sexuality -- she has written four other books on senior sexuality and is a sought-after speaker internationally -- prompted Price to more deeply investigate the topic of sexuality and grief. Loss of an intimate partner can happen at any age. Grief isn’t the exclusive realm of the elders, sadly, and “Sex After Grief” will resonate with many seeking guidance and support after loss such as divorce, rejection or other circumstances.
The many voices in this book are smart, well-spoken and insightful. Grief seems to open an exquisite, poignant dimension where the bereaved exist in a state of extremes. Emotions, thoughts and experiences are charged and precious. Those transitioning from this stage are changed, says Price. And while they are vulnerable, apprehensive and unsure, they are also wiser and courageous.
Price’s “grief journey” lasted 10 years but during that time, she allowed herself many helpful experiences including forays into the realm of friends with benefits, erotic massage and online dating. She made sure, at every juncture, that she paid attention and honored her inclinations. Her decision to keep two journals, one she filled with good memories of her husband and one about her grief, gave her some of the material she needed to structure and write this book.
White-knuckle grief, “skin hunger,” guilt, disloyalty, loneliness and isolation, and even loving memories clog the path forward. Price writes of “halting steps” toward a place where grief exists but doesn’t always sear. Every loss is unique, every person is unique and, therefore, every journey is unique. Price’s chapters about myths, grief counselors, dating and “pilot light lovers” (those who ignite dormant passions) are all especially meaningful in that they explore experiences, sexual orientation and concerns.
Price speaks candidly about sexuality and the ways sexuality changes with age. The primary audience for this book, people over 50 (perhaps), will not be surprised by what they read. Older people know sexuality doesn’t necessarily diminish with the advent of age and age-related impairments. Older people happily accommodate. Senior sexuality still seems like something of a secret that Price is trying to bring out in the open. Wouldn’t it be nice for Millennials to know, for example, that their sexuality isn’t subject to obsolescence? People of all ages keep at it, often until a final severe illness brings a close to that part of normal and natural functioning. One of the key attributes of this book is an absence of hedging and judgment. Price has a way with candor. Sexuality is. And it’s there, even in dying and death.
Price, too, has found delight and pleasure in her sexuality once again. They exist in concert with a grief that has moderated with time and hard work.
Original post found here.