The Uniqueness of grief related to being childless not by choice
We all experience grief at some point in our life. Grief is not a unique experience. Part of the human condition is loving and losing. Grief in the context of a loved one or relationship loss can be expected or it can be sudden. The specific experiences of each individual going through grief related to loss of a person or relationship are individualized, but the fact that what they are going through is labeled grief, with a shared set of norms that acknowledge that grief, is unique.
Grieving childlessness is unique for many reasons but I will share just 3 reasons in this particular post.
There are not words or cultural norms to describe your grief as someone who is childless not by choice. Many of us don’t even know the terms childless by circumstance or childless not by choice exist. They are typically found through google searches trying to find some connection to anyone that can related to what we’re feeling. The other side of this coin is that the people around us don’t have language or awareness of grief related to childlessness. There are no cards for this, no typical phrases of support, or meal trains initiated. When people don’t know what to say sometimes they say nothing.
Grieving childlessness not by choice is typically a slow drip of realizations and circumstances that are not happening vs a single event that does happen. The grief doesn’t have a clear starting point. It typically starts as a nervousness, then a fear, then a shocking and surreal realization. This process occurs over years.
Childless not by choice grief is often hidden. Our friends and family may know this is something that is a worry. However, because there is no shared language around this grief many people respond with ideas related to not giving up or whatever is meant to be will be. While meant to be supportive and encouraging these words can make someone feel isolated or that their feelings are unwarranted when compared to other more recognized forms of grief. There is typically an awkwardness and uncomfortableness when someone grieving childlessness tests the waters and verbalizes their feelings; leading to less instances being open about ones grief.
Feelings seen, understood, and validated while grieving can be an important part of the healing process. Consider joining communities of others who are childless, see a coach, or a therapist if appropriate. Shared experience is a valuable part of taking the first step to acceptance.