Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Healing from the Grief

I was speaking to a woman about my book recently. She had not read the book, but as we talked about the concept she asked me if I thought my heart was healed from the desire to have children. I told her that it was. She paused a few seconds and then said, “My friend can’t have kids either. I wish she could just get over it. Her grief isn’t doing anything but keeping her from moving on.” I was shocked and a little horrified. I pray that no one ever thinks that I would tell someone in the midst of their infertility journey, or even someone who is permanently childless, not by choice, to get over it. Healing and living does not mean that there is no longer a desire to love a child, in your home, permanently. According to several of my friends who are adoptive parents, even growing your family through adoption does not take away the what-ifs about a child from your own womb.

Infertility and childlessness is different than other heartbreaks, and the grief, while just as painful as that from the loss of someone through death, is often much harder to move past. While I have found peace and healing for my brokenness there will always be a part of my heart that wonders what it would have been like to have been a mother. Telling someone to "get over it," denies the pain that is very real in their heart. It is equivalent to telling a mother who has lost a child that they should just get over it...that is indeed not humanly possible. There will always be a hole in that mother's heart and a series of what would my child be like today, for the rest of their life. For the infertile or childless couple there are often babies who have gone to Heaven before they were carried to full term, and there are what-ifs and what-would-they-be-like-todays that invade routine thoughts frequently.

Sensitivity as your friend heals is much more beneficial to both of you. It's okay to encourage your friend to heal, to get involved with activities that make life more enjoyable in general...but at all costs avoid the insensitivity of the phrase, "get over it."

Healing does not mean you deny ever being broken. Healing also does not mean that you have no scar and sometimes the memory of the brokenness can bring back tears of momentary grief. That does not mean that you don’t have faith, aren’t accepting God’s plan for your life, or that you are saying you are happy about your infertility. You can be joy filled and still know that something in your life is not the way you wanted it.
Instead of healing indicating that one has “gotten over it” perhaps we should look at healing as the bridge over troubled water, like Simon and Garfunkel sang about, but where does that bridge lead? My prayer for every permanently childless couple is that it leads to a life beyond the grief. My prayer for every family whose childless state has not been deemed permanent is that they will fill their family with the children God may have for them, through biology, adoption or whatever means He chooses to use.

Sometimes, a look beneath the bridge will bring a tear, sometimes relief when we realize how far we’ve come. And often, glimpses at the troubled water there is become less frequent. But in Christ we can face the floods of emotion that come with infertility and childlessness, and allow Him to lift us from those troubled waters so that we may cross the bridge.

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