The Invisible Grief of Infertility

by Corinne Laan

The grief felt by those who are trying to conceive and are unable to start a family is very real. It is a grief which is invisible to the outside world and only felt by those who are on this lonely and uncertain journey. Each month, each cycle is met with hope as well as loss and sorrow.

The grief associated with the inability to conceive is intensified as yet another cycle; another month goes by. This grief is often hidden from others as those who are struggling with  infertility do not openly speak about the heartache they endure. It is not a topic which can be discussed with everyone unless the other person listening has been in that same exact situation and understands the heartbreak of infertility. Past miscarriages, stillbirth, and infant loss all add to the heartache, and can contribute to compounded grief. Often, after months and years of trying to conceive naturally, many women and couples find themselves on the medical route in the form of assisted reproductive therapy. This only enhances the stress and anxiety already felt. A hospital room filled with doctors and nurses is not where you imagine yourself conceiving your child. This strange experience only intensifies the sorrow especially when you have to return to this alien environment month after month.

Recognizing grief

Grief feels very  much like being caught in rough country, alone and vulnerable. Even if you have a partner, his grief is different to your grief. You are left with carrying your sorrow alone. For many women, the dream of having children one day starts way back; perhaps even during childhood.  The desire to have children is deeply etched within the cells of the female body. To be denied this dream is heart shattering.

Grief can manifest itself in different forms:

Anger

Anxiety

Depression

Loss of appetite

Insomnia

Lack of energy

Lack of motivation

Forgetfulness

Brain fog

Social withdrawal

These symptoms if left untouched, can cause long term health issues and contribute further to the inability to conceive. Grief needs to move through you. Trying to suppress grief will only make it worse. If you have been experiencing these symptoms for a long while, do seek help from a health professional who can provide you with practical tools to process your grief. Sometimes, we do need extra help. There is no shame in trying to restore your health and wellbeing.

Taking care of yourself is vital

In addition, self-care, self-love, nourishing, and nurturing body and mind are vital.

Here are just a few steps you can take:

Positive Affirmations which resonate with you. Write them down and refer back to them when you feel you need extra support-  I let go of self-blame, my body is not broken

Spend time in nature – Nature can be very healing. A walk along the beach, a stroll in the park can uplift your spirit and reduce stress.

Make time to sit down and have a nourishing meal. Your body is your home and you need to take good care of it.

Find a support network– connect with those who can support you on your journey

Don’t overcommit. It is okay to say no.

Turn off your phone in the evenings and have an early night. Having enough rest can work wonders.

Listening to peaceful music or relaxation audios before bedtime can help you fall asleep

Self-compassion is the greatest gift you can give to yourself now and always.

Practice conscious grieving– keep your heart open and rest in the knowledge that sorrow and hope can coexist.