One of the gifts of infertility, as I have written, has been awareness and knowledge of what people go through when they grieve. I had a conversation about this with a niece over the weekend. The sister of the one who got married (I wrote about that at A Separate Life here) split suddenly from her husband last year. Shortly afterwards, her sister announced her engagement. So, although she didn't show it at the wedding, and although she was the life of the party at the dance that night, the last months haven't been easy for her. We sat and chatted about this, and about what has helped her (and the unhelpful comments that haven't helped her) at the relaxed post-wedding day barbecue. There were, of course, so many similarities with infertility and No Kidding childlessness.
And the thing is, she is suffering from this too. She is at the age when fertility starts to plummet. She suffers from PCOS. In the last year or so she's been working with a nutritionist, managing to improve many of her symptoms, and she's even started a small Facebook group talking about her PCOS journey. So we had a lot in common, and I opened up about my No Kidding childlessness, which we haven't really touched on much before. (Usually we joke together about the trials and tribulations of being the middle child.)
During our chat, sitting next to us and undoubtedly within earshot, was her nephew (my great (!) nephew) who also had mixed emotions surrounding the wedding. The day before he'd seen his mother marry another man, and at that, he grieved the loss of his father anew. So, as my niece and I chatted about mindfulness and unhelpful comments and grief, I was conscious that he was there too, and perhaps, as he played around on the computer, also listening to our conversation. I hoped our open discussion helped. All I know is that when we left shortly afterwards, I got the hug of the century from my usually-reticent (in his teenage years) great-nephew!
Grief. It affects so many of us. An openness about our own grief undoubtedly helps others. It was a good reminder to me, and our interaction makes me as happy, in a different way, as the wedding did the day before.