Of my 406 posts here at Childless by Marriage, the one that has drawn the most attention over the years is the one titled, “Are you grieving over your lack of Children?” It was published in 2007, early in the blog’s life and has drawn 205 comments. Most come from women who are struggling with painful feelings about not having children. Many seek advice on what to do about reluctant husbands and how to cope with their sadness. Some can’t seem to find anything to live for if they don’t have children.
It’s hard for me to know how to respond. I offer sympathy and some advice, but I don’t have all the answers. Each of us has to decide for ourself whether we can live without children and how much we’re willing to sacrifice to have them.
Over the years, I feel that we have built a community, and I hope you readers will read each other’s comments and help each other.
Meanwhile, let’s talk about this grief. It’s real. We have lost the children we would have had. It’s almost like a death. Our whole lives we will see other families with children and grandchildren and remember that we will never have what they have. It hurts bad. But people who are not in our situation don’t always understand. They may tell us we’re better off without children, that we’re lucky to be free of kids, that all we have to do is adopt, that’s we’re exaggerating our feelings. They will unwittingly say and do things that cause us pain. Some of us choose to avoid people who have children, even staying home from activities with family or friends because we know we’ll be uncomfortable. People not in our shoes will tell us to get over it, to enjoy other people’s kids, enjoy the money we’re saving, and just move on. But it isn’t that easy, is it?
I have written here many times that it gets easier as you get older. It does, but the grief doesn’t go away. The loss is still there. Please support each other as much as you can. And don’t let anybody take away your right to grieve. The feelings are real. Be honest about them. As we work through this holiday season, let’s take care of each other as much as we can. Right now, let me wrap you in a big virtual hug. ((((((((((((( ))))))))))))). Thank you for being here.
7 thoughts on “Don’t let people deny your childless grief”
Yes, people say, “Well, never mind.” I DO MIND. It would be SO helpful if people could empathize and say yes, it must be hard. Instead, they say, did you have a nice time going to the theatre, did you enjoy going to London, out for a Thai meal, did you have a great holiday, where will you go next?All those things, whilst they are pleasant, do nothing to meet an emotional need in me. We had done all that before planning to have children. I was ready to give all that up (well, to cut it right back; it would have been nice to keep a little of it!) and go on bucket and spade holidays. The finer things in life are just that. Like the icing on the cake. But my cake has no substance to it and icing gets sickly after a while.
I relate a lot to your comment. A cake with all icing and no substance describes it really well. People sometimes think that because I take a couple of nice vacations in other countries a year, I'm lucky and should be happy. But that's just my three weeks off per year. There's still the other 49 weeks that are empty and lonely. As much as I love travel, I'd give up the trips in a second for a life that had meaning and purpose, a life that was full of love and family, that had a real future. When I spend money on trips, weekends away and nice dinners, it's a nice distraction but it doesn't ever come close to replacing what my life is lacking. The things that people always say “really matter” in life are things that I feel like I'll never get to experience.
Some women who have children young and easily, they tend to judge women who are childless (or childfree) as selfish. It is very rare that any of them would have any compassion or empathy for a woman who is childfree by circumstance, including marriage. Sue and others like her actually tried to act responsibly about having kids, and then it ended up being too late. So it would have been better for her to be irresponsible enough to have a child young, without a father to raise the child with, and take money from the government to boot? Yes, some people truly think so. Seriously, it boggles my mind. (My situation: I had my first child at age 45. Been judged for being childless until now – and now I get judged for being “too old”!)
Slightly off-topic, I was so offended when I had brought up this book to someone, and the person acted like it was something strange. I was thinking two words, in my head. Talk about insensitive.
Dear friends, I hear what you're saying. Lots of people just don't get it. That's their problem. Don't let it get you down.
I'm so thankful to have found this blog and a community of people who seem to be going through the same thing I am. Last year, after six years of marriage, my husband told me he didn't want to have children. I love my husband, but the holidays are especially hard to deal with, being childless when all of my old high school friends are back in town with all their small children in tow.All they can talk about is their kids, and you can never finish having a conversation with them because they're too busy watching their kids. I'm at the point where I feel like avoiding seeing them altogether, but know that they'll make me feel guilty about it.Thanks for listening.
Concerning grief*, yes I do feel it -mine comes in waves- but generally speaking, I don't feel grief nearly as severe as some ladies who've opened up & shared. I think it's partly because I've been blessed with a full life & many amazing experiences, such as world travel I couldn't have done with kids in tow, and I've made a name for myself in the business world–my work fills empty thoughts that I could or might spend on what I don't have. But also I think Jesus has brought me supernatural comfort in this department. I still get angry & hurt & ask Him why am I denied the gift of children, just not as often as I did after my third miscarriage. My grief* is transitioning, lessening, slowly. I don't expect it to ever fully go away, but it is lessening.My identity is not in my children that I don't have, nor is it in my babies who've died & gone to heaven before me. This sets me free to have fun (rather than stay in a place of grief) and to fulfill what God's plan of my life is.*To clarify, grief for not having children when you want them is normal. Healthy grief is a process; I have grieved much, as most of you have. I am not referring to abnormal grieving, which overtakes a person, is unhealthy & can lead to coping mechanisms such as addiction or violence.