One of the messages that came across strongly, but in different ways, from speakers at the national meeting was the normality of feelings about infertility, sadness at not being able to make a baby with a loved partner or with a partner at all, to recur from time to time. These are not feelings that it is helpful to assume can be ‘dealt with and put away’, but like any grief can return, sometimes with unexpected intensity, when a button is pushed or a trigger tweaked. Although nothing to do with donor conception I found myself in tears the other day talking about the way my dad and I shared a love of good food, particularly anything gamey. He died in 1979.
Parents can sometimes feel guilty at feeling sad that their donor conceived child is either not connected to them or does not have loved physical features of their non-genetic parent. Children sometimes feel sad that they are not connected ‘by blood’ to much loved parents and donor conceived adults can, but not inevitably, feel sad or angry that their genetic link to their donor and half-siblings is not accessible to them. Mostly these are not feelings that are present everyday but can arise in quiet moments.
In a previous post on 2nd September called The Healing Power of Grief I wrote about the Dutch therapist who values the process of grief but instead of seeing ‘acceptance’ – usually given as the final stage – as an ending, sees it as a continuing attitude to life where a person accepts the reality of a situation and expects that from time to time these feelings will be stirred again. From such a place it is possible to explore all experiences and feelings with openness, curiosity and a sense of calm, rather than pushing feelings away as belonging to a painful past.
This feels to me to be a gentler and more realistic approach. No-one should beat themselves up for having these feelings from time to time, or feel depressed or angry that a loss has not been ‘dealt with’. Love, grief and longing are part of the richness of the human condition. I wouldn’t be without them.