A wonderfully-supportive, optimistic book--the best book I've read on how to deal with the emotional aspects of childlessness. I'm 40, a woman and don't have children mainly because of chronic illness; this book has helped me a lot. Written by a social-worker-therapist who is childless due to infertility, it is easy to read and gentle with readers. Anton writes that she was determined not to let childlessness ruin the rest of her life and later wrote the self-help book she had needed. She understands the emotional pain that can occur when a woman wants children but doesn't end up with a child for whatever reason.
My favorite things about this book are:
(1) Anton shares the stories of dozens of childless women who she interviewed or who completed her written questionnaire. Reading their stories, presented as composites, was fascinating and very supportive. Many of them had successfully resolved their grief and moved on to other things in life.
(2) She broadens the picture from women who have experienced infertility to include single women, those with medical or genetic problems, disabilities, problem pregnancies such as miscarriage or stillbirth, relationship issues such as husbands who don't want children, women who inadvertently waited too long to have children and lesbians. I appreciate this approach because many people are left out of infertility resources and it shows us that we aren't alone.
(3) She presents ten practical steps to work through the grief. Examples of the steps are Acknowledging and Experiencing the Loss, Understanding the Loss, Surviving the Loss, Letting Go of Blame, and Talking to Significant Others. I found some of her suggested exercises helpful and skipped others.
It was well worth my trouble to buy and read this excellent, helpful resource. In fact, I wish I had read it several years ago. Reading this book before exhausting all options or making final decisions about whether to adopt or to stop infertility treatments could be helpful. I would also recommend this book for family and close friends who want to understand what a loved one is going through. Index and bibliography included.
Another excellent self-help book that can be applied to childlessness from any cause is "Sweet Grapes: How to Stop Being Infertile and Start Living Again" by Jean W. Carter and Michael Carter (revised 1998 edition); that book is written for both men and women.
What does Anton mean by "childless" and "childfree"? She uses childless as a neutral word to describe all women who once wanted children but are permanently non-mothers. Hence, "childless women" excludes those who did not want children and those who eventually adopt but includes those who now happily appreciate the advantages of childfree living. Childfree describes all non-parents; it does not imply that children are disliked or not wanted. (This differs from how Jean W. Carter and Michael Carter use childless and childfree in "Sweet Grapes.")