I’m a rationer when it comes to chocolate. I have always had a sweet tooth – since I was a kid – and I have always been able to ration my chocolate supplies. Some people like to binge on chocolate, but not me. I take a bite and I savour every moment. I find this approach extends the enjoyment of said chocolate. The other perk of being a rationer is that my chocolate supplies last a lot longer.
I know, this probably sounds strange. Everyone else I know just scoffs their chocolate down. It seems that once they start they cannot stop. Before you know it, the chocolate has disappeared, along with the pleasures of the addictive-but-brief sugar high.
The pleasure doesn’t last. That’s why I feel no shame in freely confessing that I am a rationer. I am proud of it. Not only do I get to savour every morsel, every whiff, every sensory delight of high-quality confectionary, I know I can do it all over again tomorrow with the savings. It is an ongoing delight.
Many times in life we deny ourselves pleasure. We either binge on those things we enjoy – rendering the experience short-lived – or we ration but out of guilt or obligation. Seldom do I see people rationing for the sole purpose of prolonging pleasure.
For those of us with grief and loss in our lives, such as childlessness, pleasure can seem like a distant memory. It may feel like the misery is ever-present and that the hope of returning to a normal and fulfilling life is pure fantasy. This grief is a real experience for those who are childless, especially when it is still raw and recent. We may even feel guilty about feeling happy.
Everyone has different ways of coping with grief. Some like to talk about it; some need time to themselves. Some try to return to their normal routine sooner rather than later; others seek to completely re-invent themselves. There is no right or wrong way to cope with grief, because we are all unique and our needs are particular to us.
One thing I will say, though: most of us need pleasure in our lives. Not the fake, forced-smile, cliché-filled kind of happiness that is fleeting and hollow. I’m talking about genuine moments of joy, however brief, that remind us of who we used to be. They catch us by surprise and lift us out of despair, tainted with the promise of hope and a future that still lies ahead.
All too often we let these moments pass us by. Like a leaf on the wind, the moment of enjoyment flits past and we are left right where we were before. But I reckon we could catch the occasional leaf. Instead of letting it escape, we can grab that moment and hold it just a bit longer, savouring it, like the last moments of chocolate dissolving on the tongue before they disappear forever.
For you, that moment may not be found in chocolate. It may be something you used to love, or something you have always wanted to try. It could be learning a musical instrument or brushing the dust off your old guitar. It could be learning to play golf or returning to martial arts. It could be an activity that channels your parental instincts, like mentoring foster kids or volunteering for a children’s hospital.
Whatever you choose, I hope you savour the moment. It just might help you survive childlessness.
What things have helped you deal with the loss an grief of childlessness? Have you returned to any old passions or tried new ones? How easy do you find it to “savour the moment”?