Unfortunately, the feelings of loss don’t just go away, although they can go underground leaving us with the impression that we have moved beyond them. The unprocessed pain and sadness capture our energy, take the joy out of life, and even get expressed as physical pain and disease.
Depending on our learned patterns of behavior, there are various unhealthy ways that we might find ourselves using when we are trying to deal with feelings of loss, grief and sadness. The following are just a few examples:
• We minimize or dismiss our feelings: It’s not so bad, I can get pregnant again. It was my choice so I don’t have the right to feel sad.
• We indulge in and hang onto suffering: I’ll never get over this. My life is ruined. Without a child, life isn’t worth living.
• We hide our feelings from others: Don’t bother others. You should be ashamed of yourself; hide. Don’t wash your dirty laundry in public.
• We judge and blame ourselves or others to make sense of suffering and loss: I’m flawed and don’t belong. It’s selfish not to have children. I don’t fit in.
• We deny, repress and disconnect from feelings: Forget about it. Keep busy so you don’t think about it or feel it. Time heals all wounds. Rise above it.
Research has shown that it's powerful to explore, discover and appropriately express our feelings using written and spoken language. Over the last 25 years, I have regularly witnessed powerful healing happening in our students in the Hoffman Process, which includes focused verbal, physical and written experiences of expressing feelings and thoughts –- healing from losses that may have even occurred decades earlier.
Expression is a powerful path to healing, freedom and wholeness. The first step necessary is exploration, especially of the feelings and thoughts that we have hidden, repressed, minimized or denied. We can endlessly express the easily accessible feelings, such as sadness and crying, but it is only when we get down to the core issues that we begin to move beyond the past into the present. If we are willing to delve deeply into the feelings and identify what they all are — and then discover and express the belief systems that hold those feelings in place — we begin to move toward healing. Expressing those feelings and thoughts in words that are written or spoken, moves us toward healing.
Our expectations about life and our sense of self are often seriously impacted by missed motherhood, the times in a woman’s life when she is not a mother because of infertility, pregnancy loss, giving a child up for adoption or not having any children. Children or no children is a huge part of our definition of how we expect our life to unfold — it’s really a centerpiece, which we envision we should be able to control. And are frustrated when we can’t.
Women who choose to be childfree also benefit from acknowledgement of and support for their decision, and the gains and losses that are incurred. For now, they still live outside the mainstream of what is considered the norm. Since they chose to be childfree, acknowledging what they have lost out on can be perceived as regret, even when that is not the case at all.
Each of us needs to feel that we belong, that we are part of the whole, whatever our circumstance.
Copyright ©Kani Comstock
You can learn more of my story and the stories of 13 other women as well as steps you can take to honor the loss in my latest book, “Honoring Missed Motherhood: Loss, Choice and Creativity.”
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Kani Comstock is the author of two books: Honoring Missed Motherhood, Loss, Choice and Creativity and Journey into Love, Ten Steps to Wholeness. Both of these books describe challenges involved in healing the past, and outline steps to be taken to claim personal authenticity and inner wisdom and find love for self and others. In addition to being Director of Coaching Programs and a Process Teacher for the Hoffman Institute Foundation, Kani speaks and leads workshops to support women, and their partners, in healing the loss and unresolved, often repressed, grief from missed motherhood,which includes infertility, pregnancy loss from miscarriage or abortion, giving a child up for adoption, choosing to be childfree, or never having the right circumstance.