S2E32: How to Find Intimacy When a Partner Has Serious Illness

How to rise above difficulties for sexual expression, love and connectedness

Serious illness can try to take so much from us. But does it have to take away intimacy and sexuality? Our attitude and creative approaches are key to maintaining this vital quality of life component.

Short on Time? Here’s where you can find these topics.

  • 00:00 Intro and recipe
  • 5:00 Essay: “I just learned I only have months to live. This is what I want to say”
  • 15:00 Marianne: Sexuality and Intimacy
  • 25:50 Discussion – lubricants vs moisturizers and more!
  • 37:28 Claire on how she found intimacy as her husband battled brain cancer

There is a growing recognition of the public health importance of concerns related to sexuality and their implications for health, well-being, and quality of life.  Sexuality is basic to being human. Sexuality is the capacity of the individual to link emotional needs with physical intimacy.

A couple arm in arm. Intimacy doesn't have to stop because of serious illness. Learn how at every1dies.org

Sexuality and the ability to experience intimacy are vital to quality of life.

Sexual health within the context of serious illness has many facets. The disease or treatment can have direct impact on anatomical structures. Many times body image is affected. Commonly, fatigue and/or pain can decrease interest. And a partner’s concerns about causing pain to their significant other can be a unspoken barrier.

Listen to Marianne as she talks about common themes and challenges, as well as ways people have found to find physical intimacy in ways that go beyond intercourse.

Resources

Book cover titled "Everything Nobody tells you About Cancer Treatment and Your Sex Life from A to Z. Learn about intimacy and sexuality with serious illness.

A free guide on sexual health for women

Developed by Dr. Matzo and team, this is a witty, informal guide written to address sexual health and intimacy concerns for female cancer patients.  It was part of a project funded in part by The American Cancer Society Grant #: 117514-PEP-09-200-01-PC titled “Improving Communication about Sexual Health for Adults Living with Ovarian Cancer”

Although this was written in cooperation with cancer patients, it is applicable to many illnesses that impact sexuality.


“I just learned I only have months to live. This is what I want to say”

Jack Thomas, a journalist at The Boston Globe wrote this essay a year before his death at age 83. Listen as Charlie reads his thoughts. You can find the article at The Boston Globe here.

Grief as a Milennial

Claire Luckey, who goes under the name “Grieving Bitch” on Instagram has joined the Everyone Dies correspondent team.  At age 32 and only 5 months into her marriage, her husband did not recognize her when she arrived home from work one day. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 glioblastoma (brain cancer) in February 2020, and Claire was his caregiver until his death in June of 2021.

Claire struggled to find any resources for dealing with loss of a spouse at such a young age. She channeled her sense of humor (and inner bitch) by creating the “Grieving Bitch” account on Instagram.  Claire is sharing her grief journey and life challenges as a 34-year-old widow living in New York City with Everyone Dies in a regular ‘Third Half’ segment.

Claire joins us to talk about how she and her husband found ways to maintain intimacy through the course of his illness. Some days this means ice cream and cuddles! She also talks about vibrators and recommends her favorite.

Recipe of the Week

Check out this recipe for Sweet Sorrow Bittersweet Chocolate Cake from Flour Arrangements.

You can get this recipe for Sweet Sorrow Bittersweet Chocolate Cake from Flour Arrangements.

Join Claire Luckey, Marianne Matzo, Anita Myers, and special guests every Wednesday at 8pm Central for live discussions!

Instagram: The Healing Squad

Taking on emotional damage one frustration at a time.

Cowboy playing his guitar by a coffin, and a dog howling. Coffin is vibrating... Learn about songs to wake the dead. Learn about funeral music at Every1dies.org

As a songwriter, ‘Everyone Dies’ is inviting you to showcase your original work on an upcoming podcast.

There are many wonderful songs that could be played at a funeral. We also know there are songs that could be played, but are cringeworthy (e.g. Ding Dong the Witch is Dead; Another One Bites the Dust; Ring of Fire, etc.).

We are inviting you to send us a recording of two of your original songs (i.e. that could be played at a funeral, one that is appropriate, one that is likely not) to be included in the third half of the ‘Everyone Dies’ podcast. We will include as many artists over the next year (maybe longer if we are enjoying the segment) as possible.

What we need:
Go to this link, fill out the form and submit it along with your two original songs in .wav or .mp3 format (i.e. two original songs that could be played at a funeral, one that is appropriate, one that is likely not). We will screen them and let you know what week your work will be included. We will include all your information in our show notes so people can purchase your recordings.

From Everyone Dies:

Everyone Dies: and yes, it is normal!

Everyone Dies (and yes, it is normal) is a story about a young boy named Jax who finds something special on the beach where he and his grandpa Pops are enjoying a wonderful day. Pops helps Jax understand that death is a normal part of life. This book provides an age appropriate, non-scary, comfortable way to introduce the important topic of mortality to a preschool child. Its simple explanation will last a lifetime. Autographed copies for sale at: www.everyonediesthebook.com. Also available at Amazon

Mourning Jewelry
mourning jewelry earings

We offer a way to memorialize your loved one or treasured pet with a piece of handmade jewelry.  When people comment on it and the wearer can say for example “I received this when my mother died” which opens the conversation about this loss. All our jewelry is made with semi-precious stones and beads, vintage beads, and pearls. You can choose between earrings or bracelets and the color family. Learn More

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