Millions of women suffer quietly, often secretly, some variation of missed motherhood. They suffer in silence rather than being able to explore and express the feelings and receive the support necessary to integrate the losses and create a joyful life. Roughly 75% of women fall into one or more of the following categories, although many have a child at some point.
In writing our book, Honoring Missed Motherhood, Loss, Choice and Creativity, we define missed motherhood as the times in a woman’s life when she is not a mother, by chance or by choice:
1. Inability to conceive a child that is wanted
2. End of pregnancy before birth, wanted or not
3. Birthing a child and placing it for adoption
4. Missing the opportunity to conceive, childless by chance
5. Choosing not to have children, to be childfree
It happens often in multiple ways with the experience not limited to the specific events. Instead, missed motherhood encompasses the impact over the course of her life—the way pregnancy, childbearing and absence of children are held and integrated by the woman herself, by the people around her and by the culture. Women who choose not to have children need to be as supported in their choices, just as those who do become mothers or those who wanted to but could not.
Missed motherhood needs to be included as part of the cultural norm, brought out into the open with effective steps for grieving and healing that go beyond what each woman can accomplish on her own. Loss attended to – experienced, grieved and healed – can become integrated into our life. The loss doesn’t disappear, but the grief can, and our experience of the loss can shift.
There is an untapped sisterhood of those who have missed motherhood. Understanding their shared reality, no matter their individual story, normalizes the experience and creates a greater culture of understanding and support among all women.
In our book, we use our own experiences, along with those of twelve other women, as a starting point for a much larger story. The healing journeys are followed by specific steps that readers can take to create a culture of understanding and support so countless women can grieve their losses, experience their wholeness and move into joy.
Over the past 25 years as facilitators of personal development programs and life coaches, we have supported women in recognizing the losses, healing the pain and creating fulfilling lives.
We (Kani and Barbara) offer women’s sharing groups, weekend workshops and individual coaching for women who have missed motherhood. Visit our website: www.missedmotherhood.com and let us know your interest.
Join Kani Comstock for a book reading at Bloomsbury Books
Thursday, January 23 at 7PM