Sanctuary by Chiara Berardelli

Between the ages of 35 and 44 I was mostly single. I was always optimistic that I would meet a man to have a family with, I don’t think I could entertain the alternative. At 42 some of the physical drive to have children seemed to leave me and I thought I was ‘over it’. Phew. I could get on with life.

Then in 2012 I met a man who had 2 children and was very clear about not wanting any more. I thought I was fine with that, but spending time with him and his children and behaving as a ‘family’ brought up all my unresolved desires to have children of my own.

At first I didn’t know what I was experiencing, the sadness was overwhelming and I seemed to be stuck in a mantra of wishing we had met each other 10 years previously and could have had children together. An internet search led me to Gateway Women, an online global friendship and support group for women childless not by choice.

I hovered for quite a while, I didn’t want to join. I couldn’t face it, couldn’t face the fact that at 44 I didn’t have children and that it was extremely unlikely to happen.

Well, I did join and I found a place to make sense of my strong emotions, to name my grief and have the loss recognised and not shied away from or ‘fixed’. These women ‘got it’, they knew all the triggers and how they get to us, things that seem benign to others.

They gave me a voice to talk about this taboo and chip away at the shame.

And they gave me another thing, hope. Hope that life would feel meaningful again, beyond the pain of loss. 6 years on I still have my days, sometimes my weeks when the feelings are raw and surround me but I know I am not alone.

Sanctuary (see below) is my ‘thankyou’ to the Gateway Women.


Thankyou for all your answers as to where you have found your Sanctuary, they were so interesting to read. Home and Nature feature highly. I would like to send a copy of my album, Seamonster to Joanna, who has yet to find a Sanctuary.

I’m childlessnot by choice and finding sanctuary in this heartbreaking world of broken dreams has not been found, yet.

I sincerely hope you do.

Chiara Berardelli

Official video for Sanctuary, from the album Seamonster released on 2/3/18. The song is dedicated to Gateway Women, a global friendship and support group for women who are childless not by choice.


I had lines carved on my heart

Words on my lips

No place to say them

Of arms aching to hold

A child on my hips

And you, knew

You gave me


You gave me


The water was rising

I was quiet

Silenced by shame

Out in the cold

Nose pressed to the glass

Watching their lives

The story unfold

And you, you knew

You gave me


You gave me


The water was rising

I have found a place

To rewrite the story

With grace

You gave me Sanctuary

You gave me Sanctuary

You gave me Sanctuary

Water is rising

Water was rising