This post has been inspired by a comment made regarding my blog entry dated the 26th November last year, named “Empty arms and sweet cats”. This reader has been through four rounds of IVF and has had two miscarriages, and is now coming to terms with the reality that she might never be a mother.
She wrote that she tries to be grateful for all the wonderful things in her life, but that the pain doesn’t seem to go away.
I can relate to what she is going through. When we first realised that we weren’t going to be having kids, and we made the decision to enjoy the life we did have, I thought that it was going to be it with the whole babies’ thing. I had a lot to be thankful for – my home, my family, my husband, my pets, my friends. I just had to move on and live the life I did have. I thought it was going to be quite simple. A few tears, telling people we were stopping IVF, words of condolence from family and friends, and all the dark emotions would go away.
I was so very wrong. With every loss in life there has to be a stage of mourning. The realisation that we were never going to have our own child was a huge loss, and the mourning that came with it was very painful and at times seemed never ending. I was angry, I was sad, I tried to negotiate with the universe that if I did this or that then perhaps then we could have a child, I was numb. I was in pain.
There is a common belief that grieving takes a set path through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I believed this too, and when I got to the stage of acceptance (the first time…) Kirby and I had a ceremony to say goodbye to our children and to place a point in time from which we could move on. I was looking forward to putting all that pain aside.
But we didn’t move on. Not long after the ceremony I was outside with my anger, pain, and sadness. Grief wasn’t done with me. I was shocked and felt like a failure.
So, five years later have I finished grieving? Has the anger and sadness and pain gone away? No, I haven’t, and, no, it hasn’t. It is true that the pain is less intense, most of the time, and that I am not overwhelmed by emotions as often as I used to be, but feelings of grief still visit from time to time.
In our modern day society there seems to be messages everywhere telling us to be happy and positive and then life will be wonderful all the time. And if we find ourselves not feeling happy and positive, if we can’t find a way to make ourselves happy and positive straight away, then we are failing.
This is simply not true and it is setting us up – setting everyone up – for failure in more ways than one. We think we fail because we are not happy, we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to meet with those darker emotions, and we then don’t have the opportunity to grow and deepen as human beings by reflecting on those emotions. We want them gone, and with them goes something so very important.
I’m going to leave it here today, and my next entry will be more about the times those darker emotions do come calling, how I deal with them by honouring them, and how these darker emotions are something I no longer fear as much as I used to.
To end, here is a quote from one of my favourite books by Thomas Moore, “Care of the Soul”:
“The soul presents itself in a variety of colors, including all shades of gray, blue, and black. To care for the soul, we must observe the full range of all its colorings, and resist the temptation to approve only of white, red, and orange – the brilliant colors.”
Moore, Thomas (1994) Care of the Soul, HarperCollins, New York
Thomas Moore's website: http://careofthesoul.net