Monday, August 21, 2006

Grieving Our Losses, Healing Our Hearts

For this exercise, you'll need three pictures. The first is an actual photograph of yourself that represents the life you led before you tried to conceive, maybe yourself when you were a young career woman, musician, traveler, student. This is the image of "Who I Was."

The second picture represents the pregnancy, childbirth, or motherhood experience you hoped for but did not achieve. It might be a pregnant woman about the age you were when you first tried to conceive, or a mother with several children, or maybe it's a picture of a child who is the same age as the baby you miscarried would be. This picture is called "What I Lost."

The third picture is a photograph that represents you as you are now. It is called
"Who I Am Today."

Allow about fifteen minutes for each part of this three-part exercise. It is ideal to do all of them at the same time, but if that's not possible, doing one part at a time is okay.

Glue the first photograph of yourself into your Journey Book, and sit quietly and look at her. Allow the memories of that time in your life to surface. Where were you living, who were your friends, what clothes did you wear, what was your favorite music, who were you dating? Did you think about having children? Remember one especially memorable scene from that time and journey back until you are standing with her in that moment.

Begin writing. Tell her who you are today. Tell her where you live now and who you live with. Talk about the experiences you've had since that time in your life. Tell her about your child (or children) and the joys and sorrows involved in becoming a mother. Tell her about your infertility, knowing all too well that her life path has already been irrevocably chosen. Let her innocence melt your heart, and if tears well up, imagine your wounds being washed with them. In closing, let her know that you honor her choices; they have made you the woman you are today.

Next paste into your Journey Book the picture that represents what you expected from life and what you lost. Begin writing about your losses. Maybe you thought you'd be a young mother, bearing several children in your youth. For some women the loss was of time, money, and energy. Careers were put on hold, and all the resources that might have been directed toward a new home, travel, business goals, or school were channeled into fertility treatments. This isn't the time to worry about not sounding grateful; it's a private moment for you to express your disappointment, anger, or sadness. It's okay to feel cheated, betrayed, outraged. You're feeling it in order to heal it.

Finally paste the photograph or image that represents your life now in your Journey Book. Write about how your losses have shaped you. Describe the strengths you've developed as a result of these losses. These may be a reordered sense of priorities, resiliency, the ability to deal with disappointments and make difficult decisions, new coping skills, a greater sense of compassion for others, a stronger relationship with your partner and friends, and an ability to find joy in the small moments of life. Write about the things you give thanks for every day, and what you most trust and admire about yourself now.

From: Hot Flashes Warm Bottles: First-Time Mothers Over Forty

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