I’m a part of a local birth mom support group. Normally our meetings are fairly casual and unstructured, but lately we’ve been working through “The Art of Grief.” It’s a book meant to use in a group setting, but since it’s not geared toward birthmom grief in specific, participants can use it to work on whatever reason they might be feeling grief. It’s been interesting to me to see what’s been coming up as I’ve been working on the journal assignments and the group structured activities. This whole experience for me has really cemented the importance of grief validation.
What does that mean exactly? It means that it’s important to be around people who understand that even if we as birthmoms look like we’re coping on the outside, and we may well be, we’re also dealing with a grief that never goes away. If we’re living with a closed adoption then we have additional grief, but even if we have an open adoption, it doesn’t mean the grief isn’t there.
I would venture a guess that for a large majority of the birthmoms that will read this post, you don’t interact regularly with other birthmoms. You may have friends or casual acquaintances that are birthmoms. But even if you are fortunate enough to be able to interact with other birthmoms on a semi-regular basis, I would imagine that you’re not surrounded by birthmoms every second of every day. I’m also certain that just about every one of you has a friend or a significant other that may try to understand but just can’t properly validate the grief we feel because they don’t have the in-person knowledge that we have. Even though I’m immersed in the online world of adoption and most of my closest friends are in fact birthmoms, I still struggle with my need to have my grief validated. Because of the positivity with which I view my own adoption situation and because I tend to consistently post comments about my peace with it, I think even my birthmom friends might think occasionally that I don’t have grief.
I’m here to tell you that I do. Grief is something that we as birthmoms will struggle with every day for the rest of our lives. Despite the fact that adoption can be a great thing and a good decision, it has negative repercussions for the rest of our lives. This is why I believe strongly in good education for all moms considering adoption. They need to know that as wonderful as adoption can be they will still struggle with their grief for the rest of their lives. This is also why I think it’s so important to reach out to other birthmoms when you struggle. Even if you don’t think you’re struggling, you might be ignoring it as a coping mechanism. Then again, you may really be okay at the moment. But I’m sure we’ve all been in a place where we feel okay or even great, and then grief comes out of nowhere and hits you hard.
So validate each other’s grief. Find another birthmom to lean on who will just listen with an understanding ear. It is so important.