Two weeks ago we published the first part of Jody’s inspirational journey up to the point of complete desperation at the realisation that she would not have the baby she had dreamed of for so long.
In the second part of her story she tells of her path to recovery from the terrible grief and loss she experienced as the result of this life-changing realisation.
How did you come to realise that the emotion you were experiencing was grief?
“It was luck – none of the doctors or therapists I’d seen saw it as that. I was studying to be an integrative psychotherapist and attended a workshop where we studied the five stages of grief. It all began to make perfect sense to me. When I got home I mapped what I was experiencing around childlessness against the five stages. And it was a perfect fit.”
“So I realised it was grief which was a real relief as it meant I wasn’t going mad. I also knew – somehow – that grief ended at some point.
In 2011 I had started a blog called Gateway Women to create a space to have the conversations about my childlessness that no one would let me have – and so I began to write about grief too. This was hugely healing for me, and for others, as I now understand that grief is a dialogue not a monologue.”
How did the blog evolve into Gateway Women?
“Lots of women from all around the world were contacting me saying: “How can you be using exactly the same words that are in my head?”
“I’d had a lot of healing through 12-step fellowships and had learnt a huge amount about the power of peer support – so I wanted to create a similarly supportive and healing community for childless women. For me the two most powerful words in life when you’re struggling have got to be ‘me too.’”
Jody believes the loss of childlessness is a hidden loss – in her book she describes it as a “disenfranchised grief” – how does she think society can become more aware of this grief?
“Through raising awareness and education – I am about to record a TED talk which is a great way of doing this.”
Jody clearly feels very strongly that this issue is not even acknowledged by most people for there is simply no awareness of it
“There is a stigma and taboo around childlessness which is invisible until you are in it.”
In her book Jody writes that the human condition is tough for all of us and that motherhood is seen as some kind of unrealistic immunity against unhappiness.
Jody is a realist: “That is so idealised – and so not how it is – it’s not fair on women who are mothers.”
She also passionately believes that motherhood is not the only fulfilling way a woman can live her life
“There are so many other ways as mature, intelligent, liberated giving women we can contribute our mother’s hearts to the world where it is so needed.”
“There is a perception that there must be something wrong with childless women especially if they are single. That they are broken or somehow lacking – that is just not the case.”
Jody deservedly feels very proud of having created such an amazing community that provides a wonderful safe place where women can come together to grieve their losses and learn how to find a new meaning and purpose in life. “The two pillars of my healing have been my grief work and the sisterhood – having other women to talk to who understand.”
She is living proof that the devastating realisation of childlessness is not the end of all hope for a happy and fulfilling life
As she so wisely says: “It’s not that my life had I been a mother would have been a better one than the life I am living, it just would have been a different one. Motherhood would have been a messy, imperfect human experience. Just a different version of messy and imperfect than the one I’m living!”
“Living the Life Unexpected:12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children.” By Jody Day, 2016, Bluebird (Pan Macmillan).