By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
Today in my corner of the world is All Saints’ Day. It’s not one of the so-called Hallmark holidays, or one of those we group into The Holiday Season, but it has its place. Different rituals are performed, depending upon your faith, and some of those rituals are based on ancient traditions that center around appeasing the “malevolent and restless spirits” of the recently departed. I mostly think of it as a day of remembrance, a day when I light a candle, cry a few tears, and offer up prayers of thanksgiving in memory of friends and family members.
In the past 10 months, we’ve lost some notable cheros (heros who happen to be childfree) including revered actor Richard Griffiths (perhaps most widely known as Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon), Muriel Siebert (the first woman to buy a seat on the New York Stock Exchange), and Helen Thomas (a news correspondent who covered the White House from the Eisenhower to the Obama administrations). Closer to home, I lost a chero who had been part of my life for 20+ years (read my post about her here), and I’ve supported friends as they’ve grieved the passings of parents and siblings.
I think there’s more to this day, though, especially for those of us who are childfree not by choice. Some of us are grieving the heartbreaking losses brought on by failed IVF procedures and miscarriages. All of us our grieving the losses of long-held dreams. While I won’t try to sugarcoat our very real pain, I would like to suggest that today is a good day to start letting them go. I plan to light a candle, sit in prayer, and try to release some of the restless spirits that I’ve carried with me for so long. I don’t expect my world to change overnight, but I do hope to experience a little more acceptance and maybe even some grace.
I wish peace, acceptance, and grace for you too, dear sisters.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.