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.
Jody Day of Gateway-Women.com and I have corresponded off and on over the last few years. We both write about childlessness in our blogs. She lives in the UK, where it really seems as if the conversation about not having children has advanced far beyond that in the United States. When she said she was writing a book, I couldn’t wait to read it, and I was not disappointed.
In Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children, Day offers childless women a way to define what their lives can be without children. If Plan A, to be a mother, didn’t work out, what is Plan B? Day’s Plan B is to write about and create a community to support women who are childless by circumstance–which includes those of us who are childless by marriage. In addition to her blogs and online groups, she hosts gatherings of childless women and 12-week courses to help them find their new path as non-mothers, nomos, as she calls them. If you live in the UK, you can actually meet in person. But if you don’t, you can be with them in spirit through this book.
Day, who is training to be a psychotherapist, tells her own story and provides exercises to help women dig themselves out of their childless grief and discover the new life that is still available to them. Chapters explore family histories, our relationships with our bodies, stereotypes about childless women, our views of ourselves, ways to heal from our grief, and much more. She also includes extensive lists of resources that in themselves are worth the price of the book.
I did get a free copy of the book, but I would recommend it just as highly if I had paid for it. There are lots of books about childlessness on the market these days, but most focus on the joys of the “childfree” life or the sorrows of infertility and don’t get at the things bugging those of us who are childless by circumstance. I hope you’ll read my Childless by Marriage book if you haven’t already, but do read this one, too. It will help, I promise.
[Sue Fagalde Lick is part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. ]