I grew up in the 80’s, and Ren McCormack was a hero of my day! He reminded those around him that “There is a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh and a time to weep. A time to mourn and there is a time to dance.” (Ecclesiastes 3:4, Footloose 1984)

In my life, I have had an easier time creating time to laugh and dance than time to weep and mourn. Do you relate to this? I was taught to sweep my emotions under the rug and to just “get over it.” Perhaps instead, we need to practice recognizing our grief and give ourselves permission to mourn so we can experience the joy more fully when it comes.

How have you acknowledged your big losses in life? For me, the big losses associated with failed attempts to get pregnant were important to acknowledge. I recall dining out with my sweet husband the first time we found weren’t pregnant (through IVF), taking a trip to Hawaii (after the second IVF), and staying in and watching a movie trilogy all day (after our third IVF attempt). All of this was done in an effort to make ourselves feel better, which it did, temporarily.

Yet for me, these big losses pale in comparison to the years of subtle compounding hurts and disappointments of life with infertility and without the family I desired. Watching everyone else move on with their lives as you stay stuck in this moment. People not wanting to invite you to a shower or share news of pregnancy because it might hurt your feelings. An insulting woman at church invited us to her house once we had kids (which we didn’t). Driving home from work every afternoon to see my friends hanging out in the grass playing with their kids and wishing that was me and my life.

The deepest pain came from the beliefs I came to accept about myself. I felt extremely alone in my undesired world. I felt useless, overlooked, and rejected. I felt undeserving of the “blessings” everyone else around me enjoyed. I truly felt unfulfilled in my life. Eventually, I believed my life had no purpose or value at all.

Over time, I learned how to forgive myself and others. On a regular basis, I write down my feelings and release them in healthy loving ways. I give my experiences a voice and opportunity to be heard and validated, even if it is only by me. These practices allow me to discover what is true for me. They have even taught me to change negative beliefs (ones that I once would have bought into because of my infertility or other people’s opinions about me) into new positive beliefs about myself. For example, I no longer believe my life is of no value or purpose. I now believe my life has always had (even if my life is different than I thought it should be) and will always have value and purpose—grander than I ever imagined!

I recommend taking advantage of opportunities to extend love. Love is a powerful force that always comes back to us. I had an opportunity to serve a friend who had twins diagnosed with leukemia and could not have anyone come into the house who had kids (due to likelihood of spreading diseases). Lucky for me and her, at the moment, I did not. It was a beautiful blessing to be able to help fill a need only I could. Today, I still find ways to fill a space only I can fill. It helps me value my worth and live a truly fulfilling life!

I see my life and myself so differently now. I now believe my life has been divinely designed. I can see how God was preparing me for what was to come and who I was to become. I have wept and mourned a lot in my life. Now, I better understand how to offer compassionate, empathy and kindness to others. I truly appreciate for my life as it is now. I enjoy my family every day and do not take them for granted.

What adoption or infertility beliefs, insults or compounding experiences caused you the most grief? How have you taken time to mourn? How has mourning helped you enjoy your time to dance?