In memory of Murph, my life-affirming friend.
Use positive choices to deal with heartache about infertility
Q: Two of my employees are expecting and three more collaborators are pregnant. I am truly, truly happy for them ... but, I am unable to have children (and still struggling with this after 11 years), and I have gone home in tears more than once.
I have been very careful to stay positive at work and to be supportive, though I stay out of the baby-clothes-and-accessories conversations. I don't plan to tell anyone about my situation, but I am having a hard time handling this. Any suggestions?
Wistful at Work
A: I'm sorry. Sometimes the situations where no one is doing anything wrong are the hardest to bear. That's not to say you're stuck without options. You're already exercising two of them, in fact, by choosing to stay positive and silent.
Your problem is really two problems: (1) your inability to have children, and (2) your proximity to reminders of your pain.
The second problem will resolve itself — these women will neither remain pregnant nor chatter about onesies forever — so your choices to put on a brave face and tough it out are sensible ones.
But that still leaves the second problem, which presents other options.
There are, as you know, many ways to have children in your life besides being a parent, from minor commitments, like volunteering occasionally, to major ones, like becoming a Big Sister or an emergency foster parent.
No doubt you weighed these possibilities 11 years ago. But because the subject has been forced to the front of your mind, use the opportunity to ask yourself: Among all the choices still available, have you chosen the best one for you?
Even if you end up just affirming your decision, doing so is a source of comfort in itself. When you're enduring a hard time, that's no trivial thing.
Counseling, support can help mother grieving daughter's loss
Q: My future mother-in-law is highly anxious. She often tells me and my fiance (late 20s, independent, careful, considerate) to "be careful," and even begs us to promise never to do anything to cause ourselves harm. She recently e-mailed my fiance's best man before his bachelor party, begging him not to let anything happen, because my fiance was "all (she) had left." She experienced the loss of her only daughter 11 years ago.
How do I prevent taking responsibility for her anxiety and grief, while also maintaining a positive relationship with my future mother-in-law? My fiance's approach has been that "this is just how Mom is."
Wanting to set boundaries
A: Has the mom gotten any grief counseling?
Boundaries again: She did when the death first happened, for about a year.
A: That helps, because unless she had a bad experience with counseling, it means she's at least receptive to the idea of mental health care.
Please urge your fiance to take his mom's hand and guide her, be it to a grief-support group or into anxiety/depression screening or both — or give his blessing for you to do it.