Grieving & Growth
Living the Life Unexpected: How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children (2020) Jody Day. Most people think that women without children either "couldn't" or "didn't want to" be mothers. The truth is much more complex. Jody Day would have liked to have had children, but it didn't work out that way. At the age of 44 she realized that her quest to be a mother was at an end. She presumed that she was through the toughest part, but over the next couple of years she was hit by waves of grief, despair and isolation. Eventually she found her way and created the Gateway Women Network, helping many thousands of women worldwide. Here she addresses the taboo of childlessness and provides a powerful, practical 12-week guide to help women come to terms with their grief, and to move on to live creative, happy, meaningful, and fulfilling lives without children.
Life Without Baby: Surviving and Thriving When Motherhood Doesn't Happen (2016) Lisa Manterfield. Based on her small-group workshops and popular ebook workbook series, this book offers a combination of hard-won lessons, gentle queries, and real-world suggestions. Manterfield is a comforting and supportive companion who will guide you gently down your own path to making peace with being childfree-not-by-choice and thriving in a new happily ever after.
Finally Heard: A Silent Sorority Finds Its Voice (2015). Pamela Tsigdinos. This award-winning book reveals with candor, humor and poignancy the intense and at times absurd experience of adjusting to a life as a "non-mom" when nature and science don't cooperate in the family building department. Outside of the physical reckoning there lies the challenge of moving forward in a society that doesn't know how to handle the awkwardness of infertility. Snappy and irreverent as well as moving, Silent Sorority offers a contrarian point of view in an era of mommy blogs, designer babies and helicopter parents.
Loss & Choice
Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing (1998, 1994) Christiane Northrup MD. The chapter entitled ”Our Fertility“ includes sections on healing pregnancy loss (abortion and miscarriage) transforming infertility, adoption and fertility as a metaphor. The author discusses the importance of grieving loss and includes some suggestions.
A Woman’s Book of Life, The Biology, Psychology, and Spirituality of the Feminine Life Cycle (1996) Joan Borysenko PhD.. This book describes the stages of a woman’s life. In the section called “Ages 21-28: A Home of One’s Own: The Psychobiology of Mating and Motherhood,” Borysenko notes that 47% of women in the U.S. have had an abortion by age 45; 2.3 million women seek help for infertility each year; and 7.5 million women (about 13% of women of reproductive age) are infertile or have significant difficulties bearing children. Of all women who have had abortions, 50% felt relief and 50% felt regret or sadness. Borysenko had women talk with the soul of their aborted child.
Born to Live (2001) Gladys Taylor McCarey MD, foreword by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Dr. McCarey, an ob/gyn, relates real-life stories of pregnancy and her interpretations, including a spirit-based view of abortion and communication with the unborn. She tells of a woman who spoke with the fetus of an unwanted pregnancy, asked the child to leave and then experienced the miscarriage of that fetus.
The Language of Fertility, A Revolutionary Mind-Body Program for Conscious Conception (1997) Niravi B. Payne and Brenda Lane Richardson. This book focuses on eliminating the emotional barriers to conception and birthing of children. Included is a grief ceremony for mourning the losses of miscarriage, abortion and stillbirth and releasing the unborn child.
Healing Mind, Healthy Woman, Using the Mind-Body Connection to Manage Stress and Take Control of Your Life. (1996, 1997) Alice D. Domar and Henry Dreher. This book presents mind-body medicine to reduce stress and increase wellness in women who are experiencing health challenges including infertility, multiple miscarriages and low self-esteem. It offers a range of options to be used alongside conventional medicine for treating and preventing these conditions. Some of the women resolved their infertility through adoption or choosing to remain childless.
Good Grief, Healing Through the Shadow of Loss.(1997,1998) Deborah Morris Coryell. This book discusses loss, grief and healing. It states that our grief becomes the container for what we feel we have lost and that, in the process of grieving, we come into some new wholeness. The author stresses that remembering is an essential ingredient in mourning.
The Girls Who Went Away, The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade. (2006) Ann Fessler. The author started interviewing women who gave up their children for adoption between 1945 and 1973, when 1.5 million children were relinquished to non-family. What is stunning about this book is how many of these women now, decades later, are still suffering from the loss.
Choice, True Stories of Birth, Contraception, Infertility, Adoption, Single Parenthood, & Abortion (2007) Karen E. Bener and Nina deGramont, editors. The collected voices of 24 women writers offer a look at the real, human stories behind the reproductive rights debate, focused on the meaning of the word “choice.”
Childless and Childfree
Childfree After Infertility: Moving from Childlessness to a Joyous Life. (2003) Heather Wardell. Focuses on infertile women and how they have chosen to create happy, childfree lives. The book’s upbeat tone leads the reader, with grace and humor, through what can be a difficult transition.
Sweet Grapes, How to Stop Being Infertile and Start Living Again. (1998) Jean W. Carter MD and Michael Carter. Dr. Jean Carter is an ob/gyn who could not conceive a child. This book offers guidance on how to deal with grief and choose to be childfree. The authors offer a three-step program to move through grief and mourn the loss.
Reconceiving Women, Separating Motherhood from Female Identity (1993) Mardy S. Ireland. Information from 100 women between the ages of 38 and 50 are divided into three groups : childless by choice, childless by delay and childless by infertility or health problems. All of the women are members of the Baby Boom generation.
Two is Enough, A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choice (2009) Laura S. Scott.. Based on the author’s own story and interviews with childless-by-choice couples, this book challenges the notion that parenthood is essential for well-being and happiness.
Complete Without Kids, An Insider’s Guide to Childfree Living by Choice or by Chance (2011) Ellen L. Walker PhD. This book examines what it means—both the negative and the positive—to be childfree by choice or by circumstance. Offering support, guidance and thought-provoking questions, it is a productive guide for anyone considering the childfree path.
Healing Through Expression
Opening Up, The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions.(1997) James W. Pennebaker, PhD. Based on clinical research, this book explains how writing about your losses can improve your health, how long-buried trauma negatively affects your immune system and why it’s never too late to heal old emotional wounds.
Writing as a Way of Healing, How Telling our Stories Transforms Our Lives. (1999) Louise DeSalvo. Based on 20 years of research, this book shows how a person can use the right kind of writing as a way to heal the emotional and physical wounds of life.
Writing to Heal the Soul, Transforming Grief and Loss Through Writing. (2002) Susan Zimmerman. This book offers simple yet inspiring writing exercises to help the reader resolve pain as grief is transformed into words of hope and healing.
Journey into Love, Ten Step to Wholeness. (2000) Kani Comstock and Marisa Thame. This book shows how to identify buried emotions and beliefs that limit natural vitality and expansiveness, how to heal the pain of the past, and practical steps to claim one’s own authentic power and wholeness, as accomplished in the Hoffman Process.
The Joys of Everyday Ritual, Spiritual Recipes to Celebrate Milestones, Ease Transitions, and Make Every Day Sacred. (1999) Barbara Biziou. In addition to general information about creating a ritual, this book includes rituals for grieving an unborn child.
The Art of Ritual, A guide to Creating and Performing Your Own Ceremonies for Growth and Change. (1990) Renée Beck and Sydney Barbara Metrick. The purpose, relevance, power and need for rituals are discussed, as well as many ritual elements that can be included in a ceremony.