About Jody 81 Articles
Jody Day is a British author, trainee integrative psychotherapist and the founder of Gateway Women, the global friendship and support network for childless women. She’s a founding member at AWOC.org (Ageing without Children) and a former Fellow in Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School. She's the author of 2016’s 'Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children' (Bluebird/PanMacmillan). Gateway Women hosts online communities, workshops, retreats, courses, social events and private sessions for childless-not-by-choice women. Jody lives alone in London with her cat, a stereotype that she warmly and humorously subverts.
Contact: Website

14 Comments on Hello grief, my dear old friend: why making friends with grief and doing your ‘grief work’ is a good idea

  1. Hello! I am a 46 year old American woman currently (for the past 5 years) living in Stockholm, Sweden. My husband and I have tried to have a child for many years, finally giving up a couple of years ago when our last IVF attempt failed. It has been an extremely tough road but I feel that until this past year when I turned 46 I still felt hopeful that a miracle would happen. I don’t need to tell any of you about the loss of energy or desire to do anything more than survive each day. For some reason this past January was a particularly low point for me. I felt so depressed and sad and that there was truly no meaning to life. Not only have I not been able to have a baby but I have lost faith as well. I am in a job I despise and one that I actually accepted because I wanted to be employed when I became pregnant. Ha. Just over four years later and that never happened. Now I am trying to do what I can to deal with this grief. Before I realized that it was, in fact, grief that I was dealing with, I thought, as with most things, that time would heal the pain. I am discovering that that is not the case. We have to be active in dealing with our grief, as you so eloquently have written, Jody. I have tried to find a counselor here in Stockholm but it has felt impossible. It is so difficult to meet a new person, tell them my story and then discover that they are not equipped to help me or give me any sign that they understand. I also feel that culturally, Swedish people perhaps approach uncomfortable feelings much differently. My own mother in law asked, “So have you accepted it now?” Just another example of not only people, but women, who do not understand what it is like to be childless not by choice. I truly feel alone in this. My husband has been wonderful and supportive but it just isn’t enough.
    Anyway, I could go on and on and on. I tried writing a blog a couple of years ago, Finding Happy in 365 Days. It was a one year project in which I committed to writing about something happy every day for one year, with the hope that I would form a new habit and be able to focus on Happy. What I learned during that year is that we can be “happy” and still feel miserable, and sad, and angry. Choosing to be happy doesn’t always mean that life is only rainbows and sunshine. I also discovered that while it is good to focus on the positive, it is a little bit like sweeping things under the rug if you haven’t actually dealt with the grief, which I did not know I had.
    I came across a book recently called, Seven Choices, by Elizabeth Harper Neeld. It is about dealing with loss and grief and, while it does not focus on women who are childless, I am finding that I can finally relate to the feelings I have been experiencing. I am currently reading it now and I can definitely recommend it as a resource to other women like us.
    Jody, when I came across your blog/website a while back, I immediately felt good knowing that someone out there understood. Thank you for putting yourself out there and helping us.

    • Grace Ann, your story sounds so familiar. I’m 46 next month. As a spirit-filled Christian woman, I’m wrestling with my faith as well. And I’m angry and frustrated at God. I’m in this weird state….sad…starting to grieve…yet a glimmer of hope remains for the next few months, tho I’m starting to question, why. I don’t really know where I’m at emotionally, to be honest.

      I just found this website three days ago and now I realize what I’ve been fighting off is my grief. And two days ago was a very bad day for me-incredibly sad. I’m blessed to have a supportive husband (who already has a 19 y/o daughter. And yesterday, I had the profound realization that my mom will be grieving as well. She’s been wanting me to have a baby for a long time too, so she’ll be grieving that loss in her own life.

      I immediately felt a settling in my spirit when I came across this site. After so many years of empty and well meaning platitudes and advice from women who are mothers, I will be understood here. I’m finding a sort of new found peace in this.

      • Thank you, Shebon. It is a tough road. I feel that I, too, have lost some of my faith in God through this process. I don’t want to become/stay bitter. I know where that leads and I don’t want that life but I am still so angry and sad and angry. I keep meeting pregnant women and it is really difficult to be happy for them.
        You brought up something interesting that I had not considered: Our mothers who will also grieve not having a grandchild from us. My brother has 4 children and my husbands siblings have children so there are grandchildren, just not from us.
        I wish you peace on your journey…

  2. we live in a small flat in London its rented so i cant even get a dog , the neighbour downstairs is nasty and would complain. I have had the grief for 7 years now, sometimes it is such extreme pain, but i feel it but its debilitating and I often feel suicidal. My partner doesnt want children and he is not father material , nor is he a provider type, so that is that. What can u do ?? nothing.Everyday i do not kill myself is a good day, i suppose ? who cares, life is endless and awful.

    • Hi Marsha – I’m so sorry to hear how hard things are for you right now. When you say ‘who cares’ I would answer, ‘other childless women’ and I’d really recommend joining our private online community and also coming along to one of the London meetups. Your grief needs support if it is to do it’s job and heal your wounded heart. Hugs, Jody x

    • Marsha, I just typed you a very long message, then my computer stopped working. Just know that my heart goes out to you. I’ve been stuck with a man before and felt I was dying. I was. I finally got out and thank God I did. Take care of yourself, you are important. Without you, there is nothing. There is something for you. I need so many things. I’m just so sorry that I didn’t take time to figure out what I needed when I was young. I’m 61 now. Hard to believe. Where has my life gone? But I’m not dead yet. I strive one day at a time to figure out my next step. Please don’t die unhappy. I hope we can stay in touch. I live in California. Where do you live? Marsha, you will be in my thoughts, prayers, and hugs to you to. love Carol

  3. Hi, I’m really glad to have learnt about this community of women like me, but to respond to the ‘grief’ question, yes I also feel I’m finally through it, although I still have days when those overwhelming feelings swell up again. I know that fostering (we only managed it for three years) taught me some harsh realities about parenting – there’s a lot of struggle, domesticity and hard slog to keep things going, and to some extent that helped deflate some of my imagined joy of parenting. How wonderful it was to have evenings and weekends back! Nature takes such as strong hold of women, luring us into the mothering fantasy, so that we believe it to be so wonderful and fulfilling (which ok it probably is) but there is a huge cost too. I feel I can weigh things in the balance now, which has helped me come to terms with not having my own children, …mostly, anyway.

    • Hi Clare and thanks for your very valuable point – that sometimes what we are grieving for is, to some extent, a fantasy of motherhood that it rarely matches when experienced. I’d love to know what you think of an earlier post of mine from a couple of years ago, “Death by Cupcake: The Fetishisation of Motherhood” which generated quite a lot of heated comment at the time! I don’t think it’s only ‘nature’ that grabs a hold of us – it’s also the absurdly elevated position that motherhood is currently given in our culture – a position which is problematic for all women, mothers or not! I’m so glad you’re through the worst of your grief and welcome to GW – so happy to have you as part of the tribe! Hugs, Jody x

  4. When I turned 60 it was like the light came on and I saw all the opportunities that I let go of and having children with my loving husband was one of them. He has heart disease and I don’t know how long I’ll have him. If I lose him I won’t have his children to continue his life with me. I’m going to turn 62 in January and since 60 I’ve been grieving. I think I’ll die grieving for not having his children. It’s so hard to believe that I didn’t have children with him. The time has gone by and now it’s way to late. My heart hurts. I feel so empty. I do have 2 dogs and a horse but they will not give new life. I don’t believe in that. Really feeling life and decisions I made is so very hard. I still have to lose my mom and dad. I don’t believe I’ll make it through the losses ahead, honestly. Maybe someone could comment. I so appreciate this site. I’m not alone in this.

    • Hi Carol and thanks for commenting – I’m so sorry to hear that you are struggling with how circumstances out of your control have shaped your life – it’s a hard reckoning to come to terms with and grief, although it feels like the problem, is actually your friend and will help you through this. Can I suggest that you join our online community? You’ll find the sisterhood of fellow travellers on this path incredibly helpful and comforting – and it’s completely private. You can find out more at http://www.gateway-women.com/community and give it a go and see if it helps. Hugs to you and your husband and all of those you love, Jody x

    • Hello Carol – I am so sorry to read about your husband and your fears about losing him. It’s a scary thought and one I often think about too.

      I think part of the fall out of being informed that I cannot have kids, is that I dread losing my husband. He’s been my rock since finding out 6 months ago, but I am trying to turn the morbid thoughts around into being grateful that I have him – even though I know it won’t be forever as things will always change.

      I am sending you a huge hug across the ether and hope that you are able to enjoy your time with your parents and husband.

      Sarah

      • Hi Sarah! Thank you for your response. I loved hearing from you. You sound young. That brings hope for different options. I’ve been thinking about a dream of going to Mexico, or Romania and I’ve heard there are orphanages with babies and no one to hold them. They are suffering, I am going to see what I can find out. I’m searching, God will open a door if I keep knocking. I know what you mean about your husband being your rock! Mine certainly is to. Someone asked me today how I am, I said living In reality and living one day, today. I like guarantees so it’s very hard. Knowing you are there means a lot! Most people don’t understand our feelings. Thank goodness for this sight, and friendship! Stay in touch, Carol Benitez

        • Hi Carol. I’m young-ish in my very late 30s. You’re right there are options, but unfortunately having my own child won’t be one for me. I have grade 4 endometriosis and it’s caused massive damage. I was offered IVF, but the odds were single figures at best so we decided it wasn’t for us. After many years trying, I decided that perhaps this wasn’t the road for me. I’m toying with the idea of adoption but to be honest I’m feeling pretty beaten down by the process and want to work through this grief before thinking of the other options. I expect some will say I have given up too easily but for me it’s accepting the hand I’ve been dealt.

          Carol I wish you every bit of luck with your wish to have a child in your life. Sometimes you have to think of other options out of the ordinary. Keep in touch and try to rise above it all. Not easy but this site is brilliant. Keep in touch. Sarah x

        • Dear Sarah, thank you for your quick return. I am sorry about your endometriosis. Not sure what IVF is. It sounds like you need to take a break for a while. Maybe later something will present itself to you. I don’t know what I will do. I keep searching. I work so many hours it’s hard to search. I pray God will open something up for me to. Thank you for your friendship, amazing! Hugs to you with love and prayers. I am very happy to meet you., Carol

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