Becoming a parent, the unseen grief and guilt
Grief comes in many forms but often is only discussed when it is in relation to someone dying.
I see many forms of grief and within the realms of parenthood they are many and varied. In society and particularly on social media, parenthood is portrayed as an experience of unbridled joy. But what if it isn’t for you? Being a parent can be very hard, the unseen pressure of responsibility and the sense of isolation is an area that I see frequently. Feelings of grief and anger can surface, why isn’t parenthood as we imagined?
We may also feel guilty as we experience feelings that are uncomfortable. How can we be a ‘good parent’ if we feel resentment, frustration, anger towards our baby? Are we allowed to regret our decision? Can we say it is hard, that we might even hate it or our baby at times The guilt that comes from these thoughts can be crushing and the grief rises, what have we done?
As parents we grapple with this turmoil, more often than not the thoughts and feelings go unsaid; the realisation of what has been lost comes to the fore. The life that was has gone. We start to grieve the loss of freedom and coupled with the responsibility of making decisions for another who is relying solely on us, can be overwhelming.
Awareness of our feelings is the first step, rather than denial. To allow ourselves to recognise the grief as well as the guilt. To acknowledge the loss and pain, as well as the potential for what we might gain. I offer support and guidance to help navigate the way to acceptance.
Written for Darling Magazine Wimbledon, Autumn 2021 edition