Advice from Amy: Grief Doesn't Need Suggestions

By Amy Dickinson | September 15th, 2021

A woman in mourning simply isn't seeking advice


This woman is grieving and she doesn't need suggestions on how to not Image

Dear Amy: My husband and I married later in life, after both of us swore we would never marry.

Cupid hit us both over the head when I was 38 and he was 42, and after 5 years together, we tied the knot. We never explicitly discussed having children before or after getting married; we really only said, “if it happens, great, if not, fine,” and we did not use any form of birth control.

A year ago, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and had emergency hysterectomy surgery very quickly after my diagnosis.

Since then, I have found myself deeply grieving this loss. Having children is something I don’t even really think I truly wanted; it’s more the choice and option being removed from me with such finality that I am struggling with.

My problem is that when I try to convey my grief to people I am close to, they immediately bring up adoption.

When they ask if my husband and I have considered adopting a child, I want to snap, “No, what a great idea! You’re the first person in history to EVER suggest that!”

I know they are only trying to help by offering the only “solution” they can think of. But it really makes me angry when they do this.

Is it that difficult to understand I am grieving the fact my husband and I, who finally found each other, will never parent our own “mini-mes”? That I am grieving never being able to feel a child grow inside my body; will never give birth; will never nurse a baby in those quiet, pre-dawn hours while the rest of the world sleeps?

To put it rather bluntly, why do people think any old baby will do?

What do you think is the best way to convey to those who want to jump directly to the subject of adoption when this is discussed, not to? It’s getting harder and harder for me to be polite about this.

— Not Meant To Be A Mother


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Dear Not Meant: To address your first concern, I completely agree that you should be allowed to express your absolute and genuine grief to people without them attaching to the most obvious “solution.”

Grief has no solutions. It just is.

You could head this off by saying, “Please, I need you to just listen right now.”

However, speaking for adoptive parents and the children they love, I take great issue with your idea that an adopted child is just “any old baby.”

An adopted child becomes your child, as real and visceral as any child would ever be. You still feed them in the middle of the night. You hold and cuddle them. Truly, you bond to and love them fully, and … it is as real a parenting experience as anyone could ever have.

You are not ready to hear that, and that is fine. But if you ever do take that momentous step into parenthood, I hope you will take a middle-of-the-night moment to acknowledge that this child — your child — is not just any old baby.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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