I can well remember the guilt I
felt when I began recovering in those early days after loss and after knowing
my journey to have children was over. I was, at times, overwhelmed with it – the
guilt seemed to be determined to stop any healing, any happiness. The guilt
asked nasty questions, misled me, and told me lies. Maybe I didn’t want
children enough if I could begin to feel joy. Maybe, if I could begin to feel
joy now, it meant that I didn’t deserve to have children. Were my fleeting
moments of pleasure, or laughter, a betrayal of the babies I had lost, or those
I would never have? Were they a betrayal of my journey, and the pain I’ve been
through? Etc etc.
I am sure many of you know the
drill, as I’ve heard this from so many women (and a few men), over almost 20
years of involvement in loss and infertility fields. We’re so good at beating
ourselves up, and that insidious guilt seems to come naturally. And we’re often
so used to the pain, that we don’t know who we will be if we let it go.
But that guilt is dishonest (as
I’ve written before here and here), and pointless. It manifests in a refusal to
be happy, a denial that it is even possible. It sees us continuing to feel that
pain, even welcoming in the grief of loss because it feels like we should. It feels as if pain and grief honours our
journeys and our losses.
But I think that is wrong. Feeling joy, learning to be happy
again, and embracing our lives without children is not a betrayal of our loss. Quite
the contrary. I believe that it is a far better way to honour our journeys, our pain, the babies we
lost or never had, the parents we would have been. When I’ve been able to help
others who have experienced loss, or have followed me into a No Kidding life, I
feel it has made some small sense of my loss. I remember the children I didn’t
have, the babies I lost to ectopic pregnancy, and feel that I’m honouring them
by sharing the lessons they taught me. And after all, what point is there in
the losses of their lives and (if I’m stuck in grief and can’t move forward) mine?
Living well, growing and becoming
better and happier people is the best way to remember who we are, and how we
have pulled through. It honours our losses. It reminds us that we are valuable,
and worthy, no matter what we’ve been through. It gives us purpose.
Honour yourself, honour your partner (if
you have one), and honour those you have lost. Honour them all by living well.
Honour. It’s so much
more productive than guilt.
Note: Apologies to all the North Americans who spell "honour" differently. Thanks for your understanding!