We are entitled to grieve for the children we never had

In nearly 300 posts at this blog, the one that has engendered the most comments is is a two-paragraph entry I posted in 2007. Titled “Are You Grieving Over Your Lack of Children?” it quotes a newspaper article about a woman dealing with childless grief, then asks the readers, “Have you come to terms with not having children?” We’re up to 98 comments so far, with new ones coming almost every day.

Clearly grief is a big issue for us. People who are not in our situation don’t seem to get it. They’ll tell us “oh well, you can adopt” or “the world has too many people in it anyway” or “get over it” or even “sometimes I wish I didn’t have any kids.”

It’s not that easy, is it? When we want children and we don’t get to have them, we have lost something huge. In some ways, it’s like a death. We have lost the children we would have had, along with the grandchildren and great-grandchildren. If we hang up stockings at Christmas, there will be only two–or one if we’re single. When we see someone cuddling their new baby, we feel pain. At all the times when our parenting friends celebrate the milestones in their children’s lives, we feel left out.

Yes, there are advantages as well as losses to life without children. We are free to do things we couldn’t do if we were raising children. We miss a lot of heartache and frustration along with the good times. And yes, we can be beloved aunts or uncles, teachers or friends to other people’s kids.

However, we have a right to grieve. And the grief will come back again and again, like any big loss. Does it get easier with time? Yes. Being past menopause has helped a lot. But the grief never completely goes away. Just last night, I found myself crying over a TV show where a baby was born. Again!

All I’m saying is we’re entitled to feel the loss of the children we might have had.

I welcome your comments.