There was quite an argument in The Guardian’s Saturday “Family” supplement recently when journalist Bibi Lynch, pictured, urged mothers to “Stop moaning” because of the pain it causes to women who are involuntarily childless – through infertility, bereavement or not having a partner. Inevitably there was a stream of replies from mums…
The message I took from it all is how hard it is to feel someone else’s experiences and share their perspectives. And how sad that is. Being a parent is the hardest thing I’ve ever done – and something I give myself a hard time over quite frequently.
But I also remember looking longingly at friends with partners and kids when I was single and thought I might never have the chance to be a parent. Thankfully, that didn’t last for ever; and I’ve never experienced the pain of losing a child, or facing infertility. For those that have, my good friend Gill Tunstall is getting great feedback for the healing workshops she runs for women facing these issues.
This is what women who attended previous workshops have said:
“I feel so much better after last weekend. My brain has got room to deal with life again and I can talk with other people about their problems without feeling like my head’s going to explode! I feel more like the old me again – such a lovely feeling.”
“It was so good to meet other women in the same situation as me, to talk and empathise, as I’ve felt so isolated and different from friends and family. I think hearing someone else’s story also helps put your own into perspective. Also, when you tell your story and people accept you and don’t judge you, it helps you stop judging yourself.”
“I am me again! I know I can now focus on the future. For the first time in over 2 years I have had a very enjoyable weekend – without feeling like I have my burden of “infertility” clouding my mood. Finally been able to relax – all part of letting go I guess!”
“Just thank you so much to Gill and the staff at the temple – a wonderful place, a wonderful experience and with wonderful women!”
Gill’s next healing workshop is 25-27 May at Jamyang Buddhist Centre in Kennington, south London. She says: “This workshop is for anyone who has experienced infertility, failed fertility treatment, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, premature menopause, secondary infertility, stillbirth, neonatal death, or unwanted childlessness – whatever the cause, including lack of a partner.”
The workshop aims to continue and develop the innovative work in this field of the therapist, Meredith Wheeler. The intention is to allow participants to explore their emotions, and to open up the possibility of moving on in their life.
Some may need to acknowledge feelings of grief and loss and this can help women to feel lighter and calmer.
Sharing feelings and experiences can alter the perspective of participants on their own story. This process can provide clarity for those difficult decisions on what the next step might be.
Links may be forged during this process that could form the basis of valuable supportive networks offering a route out of isolation. The longer term benefits may take various forms:
- Some people may come to terms with childlessness and decide to stop further treatment.
- Some people may decide to undertake further treatment, but in a new spirit.
- Some people may reconsider the possibility of adoption.
Gill says: “Although the focus of the workshop will be on shared experiences and emotions, there will also be an openness to finding ‘ways in’ to people’s feelings by creating art or using meditation techniques. The emphasis will be on expression rather than ability – no prior experience is necessary. Care will be taken to create a safe, compassionate and healing atmosphere.”
For further information and a registration form contact Gill Tunstall.