Humans are meant to grow & grieve in community. What do you do when you don't have a village?

Humans naturally practice alloparenting, parental care of young that is not directly of their offspring. This means that care from grandmothers, aunties, and others has been necessary for our survival. We are also a species meant to mourn and grieve alongside others. 

Yet, parents feel so much shame about asking for help and not appearing "self-sufficient". Visitors commonly stop by in the first week of birth, indulge in baby cuddles, and then return to their busy work-life schedule.

 Times are different. There is no denying we are all busier than before, but this hasn't changed our innate need to grow our family in the community. 

As humans, we are also meant to grieve in community. The loss of life, no matter the gestation or age Earthside, is a common experience that parents and parents-to-be keep to themselves despite it being too much to carry on their own.

Many parents minimize and hide this experience from others. It can come from a place of shame, and it can come from a place of protection, as even though others have well-meaning, an invalidating comment is likely to make itself present.

The modern-day "village" is scarce. The village might just be you: the partner in the passenger seat of the wild ride called parenthood. This is why it's so important to be present and proactive. You will have to get creative in cultivating your village as your partner gets their bearings of nurturing their baby and themselves covered.

Still, you don't have to do this alone. 

There are a few ways you can nurture the growth of your village:

  • Encourage your partner to engage in past social activities they used to enjoy or to branch out and try something new. At the same time, you cherish some 1-1 time with your baby. 
  • Look into support groups that can be helpful for your partner's grieving, if necessary. Therapy can also be an avenue where they can set goals of coping better with grief or sharing their experience of grief with someone in the village.
  • If there is minimal support from your partner's side of the family, brainstorm your potential family members that can help while discussing the boundaries for the care of your family that YOU will need to create (boundaries can be created and practiced in therapy).

*Not all parents benefit from a secure life partner on this journey.*

The birthing parent can also find this placeholder for the planter of a village with a friend, therapist, clergy member, or healthcare professional.

And lastly, as a partner, remember that you are also affected by the lack of a village. Take time to engage in the hobbies, self-care, and social circles that will help keep you fueled during it all.