By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the invisible losses that come with being childfree-not-by-choice. My list includes:
• Never being able to see my father’s, husband’s, or own eyes in another human being.
• Never having the pleasure of hearing someone say “She’s just like you at that age.”
• Never getting to throw an over-the top child’s birthday party with an ooh- and ahh-inspiring magician, balloon artist, or bubble-making machine.
• Never getting to quietly take pride in my child’s achievement.
• Never being able to watch my grown child pass on to his child the traditions, rituals, and stories I taught him.
If you take the time to think about it all in one go, which is more than most of us are ever likely to do because of the breathtaking amount of pain involved, it’s a testament to our strength that we’re still standing at all.
“It’s a testament to our strength that we’re still standing at all.” That line took my breath away the first time I read it, and it reminds me that grieving and healing is a long and circuitous journey.
I know it’s painful. I know sometimes the “easy” route of denial is appealing. But today I encourage you to set aside some time to acknowledge what you’ve lost. The visible and not-so-visible. I think that is the first step toward letting it go.
If you need help working through the process of grieving, I encourage you to check out the many resources available to you, starting with Lisa’s book Life Without Baby: Surviving and Thriving When Motherhood Doesn’t Happen.
If one book or author doesn’t speak to you, don’t give up; find another. It’s what I’ve been doing, and I promise you it helps.
Today I am dedicating my blog to National Infertility Awareness Week and to the launch of Justine’s book. For five weeks, 25 amazing women will share their stories of infertility and loss as part of this incredible blog tour, because together we can shatter the stigma.
Yesterday, Kelly at The Dovecote shared her story, and on Monday we will hear from Catherine-Emmanuelle Delisle at Femme Sans Enfant (Woman Without Child). We would love for you to participate by sharing these posts far and wide. We’d especially love to see your own broken silence by sharing your own infertility story using the hastags: #NIAW, #infertility and #EverUpward.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.