I was recently asked ‘how long does it take to ‘get over’ the grief of being childless?’
And my answer: ‘how long do you want it to be?’
I say this because grief is the emotion we least want to feel so we avoid it at all costs. But what happens then is that it stays with us, popping out to ‘play’ when we least expect it or when we’re triggered for example by a surprise pregnancy announcement.
It’s human nature not to want to fall apart, falling apart has all sorts of negative associations, not least that it’s weak.
What if it is a transformation and an opportunity to ‘fall into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful’?
Having held myself together for so long, I now wholeheartedly believe that grief work can be transformational. Here’s my story.
After finishing our 6th and final round of IVF we were offered no support or help of any kind and felt as if we were the only people in the world who were childless I didn’t know I was grieving, I knew I felt sad, and in the way that I’d learned from my family, I pulled myself together and carried on.
Four years later Mum died and then I knew I was grieving. I cried, I took time off work, but I held back, because that’s what I’d learned. I remember walking down the road starting to feel emotional and putting those emotions into a box, thinking that I’d get them out later when it was more ‘appropriate’.
And there they stayed. Somehow it was never ‘appropriate.’
I leaned NLP which helped massively. Until then I’d hidden my childlessness and the inner work I did took me to a place of acceptance.
I am completely at peace with being childless. We have a great life and I’ve been known to say that ‘being childless has proved to be my biggest gift because without it I wouldn’t be enjoying the wonderful life that I now have.’
But life has a way of throwing you curve balls.
As I write this it is almost two years to the day that Dad died. I’m an only child, and even if it was in my nature to fall apart I couldn’t because there was a lot to be done. so more and more ‘stuff’ went into the box.
And there it stayed.
Avoiding the pain was the only way I knew to deal with it (or to be more accurate not deal with it). I know now that this was the worst thing I could have done.
After a while there was so much in the box that from time to time the lid burst open unexpectedly, surprising both me and those around me.
And still I kept resisting, I kept slamming the lid shut, but it kept popping open. It felt like the game ‘Whack-a-mole” where it just wouldn’t stay closed. It took more time and a lot of encouragement from some very dear friends before I allowed myself to look into the box.
In the last year, I’ve been taking the lid off and healing things slowly and gently, embracing the pain and doing the work to put myself back together.
It is a really interesting process and I love what I’m learning. I have so many more tools and skills and as the quote above says I do feel that I have ‘fallen into something different, with a new capacity to be beautiful’
Today I’m calmer, more peaceful, more relaxed and happier than I’ve been for a long time.
How long do YOU want it to be?
It’s your choice.
Please don’t be like me and avoid the pain.
One thing I know is that you have pain and grief ahead of you. Pain is inevitable BUT suffering is not.
None of us can control what happens in life, BUT we absolutely can determine who you are and how you react to what happens.
I’ll end by quoting Glennon Doyle Melton from a video called ‘Broken is the Beginning.’ In it she says that we try to protect ourselves by not allowing our hearts to be broken, because we think that a broken heart is the end. But she views grief and pain as beginnings because that’s where all of our transformation happens.
‘You have to let everything fall apart before you find out what’s indestructible about you.That’s the beauty of everything falling apart; it’s always a new beginning. Allow yourself to be broken. Look for new beginnings.’
What do you think?
Did this resonate with you? Have you avoided your grief and put it into a box?
Please share your thoughts below to help other women (you don’t have to use your own name).