Response #
Current experience of grief
Respondent details
35-44 | Female | Australian
Q1: What was the nature of your relationship with the person who died?
I am unable to have children so am experiencing profound grief for the life and children I thought I would have and trying to come to terms with all the things I have and will miss out on in my life - all the milestones of the child/ren but the changes in relationships with friends and family who do have children and constant reminders of my own loss in a society that is absolutely obsessed with procreation.
Q2: How has the person’s death affected you during the hours, days, and weeks that followed?
I feel extremely up and down. Some days I feel fine and can go about my normal business, other days I find it hard to motivate myself, feel anxious, angry or sad and am going through a stage where I constantly think back in my life and think about all the things that I could have / should have done differently so that I wouldn’t be here now. I often struggle to sleep, I’m exercising less than I would like to and don’t eat as well as I could. I struggle with social situations as everyone in my peer group seems to have children or is talking about it.
Q3: How, if at all, have your relationships with other people (particular individuals and other people in general) been affected by the bereavement?
It has created enormous tension and resentment towards my partner. I also find myself stepping back from some friendships where all their focus is on children or where everyone in the group has children except me. I often feel lonely but find socialising hard and often distressing.
Q4: Does the surrounding world seem any different to you while grieving? If so, how?
It seems the same but I feel different so I can’t relate to it in the same way.
Q5: Has your experience of time changed in any way?
I’m not sure. It’s hard to tell as my sense of time changed during COVID anyway.
Q6: Has your body felt any different during grief?
I notice more anxiety and probably feel more tired than I ordinarily would.
Q7: Has grief interfered in any way with your ability and motivation to perform various tasks, including paid work?
I still go to work every day but some days would prefer not to go. It is a good distraction once I get there so I keep going.
Q8: Is your experience of grief changing over time? If so, how?
Some days I get a break from it but other than that I’m not noticing many changes yet but it’s pretty early in my grief process I think.
Q9: Have you ever found yourself looking for the person who died or expecting that person to appear?
Q10: Are there times, places, and occasions that have made you especially aware of the person’s absence?
Seemingly everything. Seeing other people’s children, celebrating kid's birthdays, my own birthday, mother’s and Father’s Day, Christmas, returning to school time when there are pictures of school kids everywhere, the list is endless.
Q11: People who are grieving often report experiencing the presence of the person who died. Have you had any experiences that you would describe in those terms?
Q12: Do you still feel a sense of connection with the person? If so, could you say something about when you feel this and what the experience is like?
I do feel connected with the spirit of the children I wanted to have. They are real to me and I do feel more peaceful when I connect with their spirit.
Q13: Since the person died, is there anything that you have been doing in order to feel close to them?
I find being in nature helps me feel connected to them, that feeling that their spirit is in the universe in some way.
Q14: Is there anything that you do in order to avoid being reminded of the person or of their death?
I have blocked a number of people on Facebook who often post about their kids, I limit situations where I am in a group of mothers as the conversation inevitably leads to them. I am conscious of what I read and watch on TV as they are often focused on children or happily ever after scenarios.
Q15: Has anything in particular helped you to cope with grief? Has anything made you feel better or worse?
I have read lots of books and tried to find as many resources as possible about being childless not by choice. I have joined Gateway Women which is for women like me is very helpful. I have a regular meditation practice, I try to get plenty of rest. I spend time with my dog and try to spend time in nature whenever possible. I feel worse when I’m too busy and get worn out or of I try to do too many social things.
Q16: How understanding have other people been? Have others said or done anything that you've found especially helpful or unhelpful?
People can be incredibly judgmental and ignorant around involuntary childlessness. It can be hard to talk about as often people just make throwaway comments “you’re lucky to have so much time” “I wish my house was this quiet” or just don’t say anything. Then there are people who spend all their time talking about their kids so it doesn’t feel safe to talk to them. I do have a handful of people that just listen without judgment but I wouldn’t say I’m entirely open with anyone about the depth of my grief which only recently has become apparent to me.
Q17: How, if at all, has your experience of bereavement changed you as a person?
In a way it’s made me a much stronger person, in other ways I have lost all of my confidence and can’t see a way forward. I used to be a very hopeful positive person but am not like that at the moment. I hope I’ll get to that point after I have gone through the grief process.
Q18: How, if at all, does grief over the death of a person differ from other forms of loss that you have experienced?
This is unlike any other grief I have experienced. Because I haven’t actually lost a person but lost the life I thought I would have which was children it feels all consuming.
Q19: Are there any aspects of grief that you find particularly puzzling or difficult to put into words?
It’s unpredictable how it shifts and changes. Things that will upset me one day I might be fine with the next. It is hard to find the words to explain the experience to others, particularly those with children. It can be incredibly isolating.
Q20: Are there any important aspects of your experience that we have not addressed?
Just thinking about disenfranchised grief and how it impacts so many people. I certainly wasn’t aware of it until I started going through it myself. It would be good if there was more knowledge about it in our society.