Sex & Death || By Rick Garcia, Certified Sex/Cannabis Coach, LMT
I often write blogs about things that clients ask about, but this time I wanted to go with something a little more personal. This blog will be exactly what the title suggests, so please consider this to be your trigger warning and rightly so.
I find it curious that the most natural aspects of life are often not talked about the way they should be. Everyone reading this post, everyone near you as you read this post (for that matter, everyone) is a sexual person who has experienced/will experience death and sexuality. These natural experiences are guarantees in life, yet to discuss them is taboo. Then comes the even more troubling thought; how long after the death of a loved one should I wait to have sex? There isn’t a simple answer to this question. The answer is quite subjective, which isn’t surprising, but what is surprising is the symbiotic relationship that sex and death share. However, I’m getting a little ahead of myself, so allow me to back up.
Recently my partner and I lost our pup. She was 14; he adopted her when she was 7 months old, and for the last 5 years I had the pleasure of loving her. This certainly hasn’t been my first brush with death. I’ve grieved family, friends, colleagues I’ve admired, pets, even past lovers. This was the fist loss that I experienced with a partner, up until this event, my grief has always been…well, mine. Sharing the loss, the pain and the tears was really a profound experience that gave me some insight that I really want to share.
When it comes to sex there are usually two types of reactions when we grieve. We either cut ourselves off from sex, or we dive head first into it. Neither reaction is good or bad, what we do with that reaction is going to determine if we are expressing grief in a healthy or unhealthy way.
As a matter of fact, grief and sex have a very close relationship. I don’t mean to get too deep, but death gives many things. It can give closure, meaning, depth, release and many other things (both good and bad). To quote Francis Weller, “Grief is subversive, undermining the quiet agreement to behave and be in control of our emotions.” Our emotions fire off, in ways that we sometimes can’t control. Then again, why should we? Our relationships mean a lot to us, this release of emotion (in whatever way we express emotions) lets us know we are alive. There are places in our mind and emotions that we can’t get to without grief. If you’ve read my blogs, you’ve heard me talk about sex like this. Most of us are here on this earth because of sex, this want for physical closeness and release can culminate in life.
Healthy sex can take us to a place of abandonment, where we are able to access pleasure, rapture, surrender and connection.
Sex on a biological level can elevate our mood, trigger our pleasure center and release chemicals that make us feel better, which can lead to healing. Eros is life. I’ve worked with people who use sex to disconnect during times of grief, I get that. Sometimes the shadow of death stretches so wide and far that we can’t see anything else, we want to see something else, so we’ll disconnect, engage in more sex for that temporary relief. That can be destructive.: the line between escaping and seeing the big picture in smaller doses is thin. I did walk that line on both sides in my single days. Using sex to feel better was good, but it was only part of what was needed. I’ll expand on that in a second.
Now that I have my partner, it’s a very different story. We luckily had talks about death (our own, our family, our friends, our pets). We both vocalized how we deal with the inevitable and created agreements. So when our home was visited by death we had a blueprint, it wasn’t perfect, but it gave us a guide to follow. He is more logical and stoic, I’m more emotional and sentimental. We knew our strengths and where we needed support, and we were able to guide each other. I think the most insightful aspect was seeing how I projected my ideas of grieving to my partner. The way I grieve wasn’t the way he did. It gave me awareness. I don’t mind disclosing that we had a sexy-time night scheduled, we didn’t know what to do when that night came around. In the end, we didn’t know if we were up for sex, but we wanted intimacy. Holding, kissing, talking, touching, crying and sharing that space together. That intimacy helped us heal and the intimacy opened the door for Eros. If you’re reading this and in a relationship, talk with your partner now about death. It’s not taboo, it’s natural. Getting that blueprint will help both of you to prepare for a day that WILL come.
Remember when I said that during my single days sex was only part of healing? Well, that’s true. It gave me the break I needed and the pleasure I was craving, but it wasn’t all that I needed. I needed to talk to someone about my feelings, I needed to find a way to honor those who passed. It doesn’t matter if you’re single, in a relationship, or poly. Have a plan, have it in place before something happens. Maybe you do feel that you should abstain from sex. I get that, but don’t abstain from connection. That connection can be to yourself or to another. Self-soothe, seek touch, massage, intimacy. All the things that give life should be harnessed right now.
These taboo subjects are taboo because we are taught to fear these subjects, but we shouldn’t. They are part of life. They are part of us. Bring up this subject with yourself or with a partner. Should you need it, coaches and counselors are there to help you.