If you’re dealing with the loss of the dream of motherhood, there’s a good chance you’re going through it more or less alone.
Let’s face it, it’s often easier to turn in on ourselves and shut the rest of the world out than to try to express what we’re going through with someone who might not understand. There’s less chance of getting hurt this way and less opportunity for someone to try to say something helpful, but only makes matter worse.
While doing some research on grief and loss for a project, I came across an article that turned that idea on its head. (Of course I now can’t find the article, but when I do, I’ll add it to the post.) The article was about the importance of involving those close to us in our grief. The author writes:
“The process can also assist those close to us to re-orient their relationships to us. For example, without appropriate acknowledgement of a major change, former good friends don’t know how to relate anymore, what is appropriate for discussion or activities and so avoid the issue altogether by dropping the friendships.”
Our culture has accepted norms and customs for handling grieving friends and relatives. Most of us know what to do and what not to say to someone who’s suffered a loss. But the loss of motherhood may not be apparent or understood by those who care about us. We have to point it out.
By telling people what we’re going through, acknowledging our loss to ourselves and to them, we can create expectations for our relationships to function by, rather than allowing those connections to fizzle out because nobody knows how to behave around us.
Sounds easy on paper, I know, but wouldn’t it be worth the short-term pain of having an uncomfortable conversation with a friend versus the long-term pain of watching that friend drift away because she didn’t understand what was going on? What do you think about this idea?
It Got Me Thinking…About Privacy July 31, 2012
Tags: childfree, childless, family, hurtful comments, Infertility, privacy, share
This post was originally published on January 14th, 2011
By Kathleen Guthrie
Earlier this week I wrote about inappropriate chitchat, and my heart breaks over the comments (several came offline). Readers shared some of the horrible, though possibly well-intentioned, things people have said to them that added salt to the already devastating wounds of infertility.
“When are you going to have kids?”
“So which one of you is the reason you can’t have children?”
“Why don’t you just adopt?”
We’ve all heard variations on this theme, and I don’t know if it ever gets easier to come up with an appropriate response. The bigger issue I think we haven’t yet discussed is when—if ever—to tell people, and who we should tell, versus our right to privacy.
How are you handling this? Did you break the news to a few key people, expecting them to spread the message down the line? Did you tell just close family and friends, hoping to gain their support? Did you include a paragraph in your annual holiday newsletter? Or have you kept it to yourself?
Speaking of privacy, if you’re uncomfortable openly posting your thoughts or concerns on the blog, there are members-only discussions going on in the forums. You’ll find comfort, compassion, empathy, and support here. I hope you’ll reach out. Meanwhile, consider yourself cyber-hugged.
Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She believes “Life is what happens when you’ve made other plans.”