Health and Wellness

Hope, Healing and WellBeing

Mary Treacy O'Keefe

Hope, Healing and WellBeing – Honoring Missed Motherhood with Kani Comstock

Kani Comstock was training as a research scientist when she first experienced missed motherhood. Her life then took a different course. She has lived and worked in Japan, traveled widely especially in the Pacific region, designed cultural and educational exchange programs, developed and directed four organizations including the Hoffman Institute, and wrote a prior book, Journey into Love, Ten Steps to Wholeness. For the last few decades, Kani has been a Hoffman Process Teacher and Coach.

According to Kani, the absence of a child or loss of a pregnancy is a void and, frequently, a profound loss experienced as a failure, a shame, something that needs to be fixed or hidden, even when it is a choice. Often there is no acknowledgment, no rituals, no celebration, even no words. It has no name or category. The pain, loneliness and awkwardness can be unimaginable until it happens to you. Based on available statistics, it appears that as many as 75% of women in America have had or will have one or more experiences of missed motherhood at some time in their lives, whether or not they ever have a child.

In her new book, Honoring Missed Motherhood:Loss, Choice and Creativity, Kani discusses five categories of “missed motherhood,” the times in a woman’s life when she is not a mother, by chance or by choice: 1. Inability to conceive a child that is wanted, 2. End of pregnancy, wanted or not, 3. Birthing a child and placing it for adoption, 4. Missing the opportunity to conceive, childless by chance, 5. Choosing not to have children, to be childfree. Many women have experienced more than one of the categories.

Kari discusses these different types of loss, and the difficulty of responding to people who inquire about a woman doesn’t have children. She shares ideas for dealing with the loss, including through rituals, expression, including discussing feelings in sharing circles.

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