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Goodbye to the Children I Never Had

Goodbye to the Children I Never Had

How can I say goodbye when I never even had the chance to really say hello?


I find it so hard to say goodbye. I think I'll never see the person again. On the other hand, I can always call or send an e-mail, so saying goodbye shouldn't be so hard.

But what happens when the person is no longer there? When they've lived out their 120 years and they are gone? Then I say goodbye and it's permanent. They're no longer there to share things with, to support me, or vice versa, or commiserate with. I can't communicate with them directly. I can pray for their soul, but that's not satisfactory; it feels one-sided. It's very sad for me to say goodbye to someone this way.

What about a situation where the person never actually existed? They existed only in my visions of what I wanted for myself, but not in flesh and blood. How can I say goodbye when I never even had the chance to really say hello? We never spoke or touched in life.

But in my dreams we did. In my dreams, it was all so real. I held them and cuddled them. They were so cute! Some had curly hair, some had straight; some were blonde headed (like their mom) and some had light brown hair (like their dad). They smiled and cooed. We celebrated the bris or the Kiddush ... and I even allowed myself to dream about their wedding. They learned to walk. These children of my dreams brought home gorgeous artwork from school that I hung on the fridge. In some dreams, there were twins - of course a boy and a girl! So we celebrated a bris, a Kiddush ... and in the wildest dreams even a pidyon ha'ben (redemption of a first born boy). Wow - the people that came! These were global celebrations; if you couldn't come to the event in our town, you celebrated in your town. And in places like Jerusalem, there were celebrations in several neighborhoods. In my dream, there was incredible unity because of our Simcha (joyful celebration).

These children existed - they seemed so real. Until I woke up and realized it was a dream. It was a dream that recurred for 25 years, in one form or another. The particulars may have changed, but the basic story line remained the same: I became pregnant, went through a birth, was granted a healthy child, and participated in the ensuing celebrations.

But this never happened. I never really said hello. And now it's time to say goodbye. Goodbye to the potential children, goodbye to that part of my life that allows this to happen, and goodbye to the dreams. I don't want to let the dreams go. I don't want to part with the potential that I can create life. I'm forced into that space, like stuffing too many things into a suitcase and pressing them down. I feel the pressure of having to say goodbye before I'm ready.

The last time I felt this pressure that was when my grandfather, ob"m, passed away. I was only 17 - he left too soon. I didn't have a choice; I had to say goodbye on that early fall day. I never saw him alive again. I wasn't ready - God took him anyway. It was God's time, not mine.

It's the same with these goodbyes. I'm on God's time line. In His infinite wisdom, He's decided that it's time to say goodbye to the children I will never have. He has a plan for me, and being able to biologically create life is not part of this plan. I'm having a hard time accepting this plan. I question it. I struggle with it. It's painful to live out this idea. I'm sad. I'm saying goodbye in the hardest situation possible ... I won't be able to have regular contact. I won't even be able to pray for their souls because they never existed.

But maybe, just maybe, they did exist ... in a previous lifetime. Maybe, at some future date when God reveals His Master Plan, I will meet all of these souls and will realize that indeed I was somehow able to create life. Or maybe the Master Plan was that I helped others create life and I will meet those souls who will recognize me as part of their heritage.

In hope, there is life. By living in hope, I can learn to say goodbye.

June 30, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 100

(97) Anonymous, August 26, 2017 2:09 AM


This is one of the most touching and well written articles on this topic I have ever read. I'm so sorry for your pain, but I thank you for sharing your story because it brought me such comfort. I came across your article after Googling "saying goodbye to the child I never had" because my husband and I are not able to bear children due to azoospermia and other fertility issues. For me one of the deepest pains of trying to accept this is in fact my faith and why God hasn't blessed us with a biological child, rather than just being able to accept the infertility as a medical condition. I too like you mentioned hope they "did exist in a previous lifetime" or when he "reveals his master plan I will meet these souls and realize that indeed I was somehow able to create life." For now, I write a goodbye letter in my mind to those hopes and dreams and try to move on to make beauty from the ashes of my sadness (which as you know is often not recognized or validated by society at large) and live out the plan he has for me the best I can. Thank you again and God bless you.

(96) Anonymous, May 4, 2016 6:59 PM

I am not alone

Thank you for writing such a touching and meaningful article. I am going through that exact issue right now and it's nice to know I am not alone. Baruch Hashem we have a wonderful15 year old son who brings us lots of nachas but since then I have had 7 consectutive miscarriages. It is detrimental to my physical health to continue to try but I can't come to grips with giving up hope. I have a strong conviction that my role as a jewish woman is to bring more yiddishe children into the world. It's also hard to live in a community having an only child. It's hard on my husband and I but also hard on our son. I hate seeing him in pain. Thank you for putting so many of my thoughts into words.

(95) Binti2020, March 10, 2016 2:57 AM

This touched my heart and soul

I know this is an old post, but just wanted to say thank you for putting into words all the feelings I am having right now.

(94) Graham Sorrell, August 14, 2015 1:12 PM

Great article. Thanks for the info, you made it easy to understand. BTW, if anyone needs to fill out a “My Life Planning Workbook”, I found a blank fillable form here: I also saw some decent tutorials on how to fill it out.

(93) Anonymous, July 8, 2015 3:29 AM

Finally - Someone Who Understands

Thank you for writing what you did back in 2007 - even though I just read it today (7/7/15). I have been fighting these feelings since 1996 and refused to have any children (biological or adopted) unless I was married to a man who could help me raise a child or some children. Unfortunately I am 45 yrs old and now the time has passed. I have dated men who no longer want anymore children, but yet they want grandchildren. I am glad that I found someone else (you) who has/had these feelings inside of them - but I am also conflicted because I feel your pain and wish that I could take your pain away. I feel blessed that I am able to have my dreams of my "children" even though I probably will not meet them here on Earth. I am very thankful that I came across this website and got the chance to write a little bit about my internal pain to someone who can relate to me. Again - thank you. You have helped me more than you will ever know. :)

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