The road to, through, and during motherhood is enshrined with so many conflicting emotions. Often women do not feel comfortable admitting to, or even openly expressing, the extreme emotions which surface. As women fall into the expectations of society, family, and friends, most do not recognize their experiences create a significant change, and therefore a need to grieve.
Without realizing they are grieving; women do what they are taught. They distract themselves and push their emotions down, tucking them away and out of sight. Infertility, miscarriages, surrogacy, full term pregnancies, and even empty nesting all have the ability to produce unresolved emotions. Without permission or the tools to processes these emotions, women can feel trapped, within the massive changes and disappointments.
In this five-part series we will explore each of the above topics separately, discovering the unique emotional challenges of each and the importance of openly, and honestly, expressing these emotions.
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Part One: Infertility
Grief has many definitions, each as unique as the person experiencing them. Infertility is new territory for many. It is an emotional journey, encompassing a roller coaster of emotions. Driving this experience are the conflicting feelings of what we wished was different (“Why can’t I get pregnant?”) and the disappointing feeling that our body has let us down (“Was it something I did?”).
When we begin to plan for our first baby we have hopes, dreams, and expectations. Women are excited to move into the next stage of their lives, doing something which seems so natural. However, when these dreams do not happen, there can be a loss of hope and worry that the journey may never be successful.
Next comes the time commitment, the financial commitment, and the preparatory drugs which can change the way a women feels about herself. These are all changes, and challenges, which bring their own emotional charge. As a woman’s moods shift, so does the financial burden of following a dream which has no guarantee and often seems like there is no end in sight.
Finally, there are the unsaid communications. Perhaps the things women want to say to themselves, their partners, their friends, or their family. They may feel they must be strong for those around them or that others simply won’t understand if they do find the courage to say aloud how they are feeling.
Well-meaning people want to share their stories of infertility. They may think they are offering support when in fact they are taking away a woman’s safe place to share, without judgement or analysis, how she is feeling. Women don’t want to be fixed. They simply want someone who will hold space and listen. Someone who will provide a calm in their storm; where, for a few moments, they can find comfort.
Learning how to navigate this terrain means women must move from their heads to their hearts. They must move away from trying to understand their emotions and rather allow themselves to feel. On this unpredictable journey there is a feeling of “being out of control”. It is true; we cannot control the process. However, we DO have the ability to control our response. Now, all we need is to have the right tools to do so.
Infertility rarely happens as an isolated incident. There are, what seem to be, an endless series of negative results. Once again, a woman may feel like their body has failed them. Additionally, they may believe they have let those who are counting on them down.
When the first loss is not processed the next loss has nowhere to go other than to layer onto the previous loss. Each one becomes cumulative. Grief is also cumulative – mostly negatively. Grief can become a heavy load to carry, especially if there have been numerous disappointments.
It is human nature to compare our losses. When we do, we rob ourselves of the ability to face each loss on its own; To honor the uniqueness of each experience. Yes, it is a similar loss, but it remains a different experience.
I am not going to tell you I know how you feel, because I don’t. Your journey is unique. No-one can ever truly understand how you feel. As a Grief Recovery Method Specialist, I can pull from, and summarize, the experiences shared by others who have gone through something similar.
Nothing can change what you have experienced. However, you CAN come out the other side of your pain. I have witnessed first-hand the emotional freedom women acquire when they are able to truly feel their pain, complete it, and find the ability to set it down. The result – a newfound clarity and resolution to begin the process once again.
Tammy Adams, Certified Coach Practitioner offering support, in-person or online, Canada-wide. She is certified in The Grief Recovery Method®, Personality Dimensions™, Reiki, Access Bars®, and Mindfulness. To learn more about the services she offers, book a 20-minute free phone consult, or visit her service tab on her website at http://tadams.ca/