Grieving Infertility: 5 Steps that can Help
Sometimes getting pregnant becomes more difficult than we thought. When fertility issues create roadblocks in your journey towards building a family, it is normal to grieve all you have lost. You have lost a lot. Grief is a normal response to loving and losing something, and when we lose pregnancies, the hope of becoming pregnant, or the hope of creating a family, it is natural to grieve those very significant losses.
Infertility can bring stress and pain to both you and your partner. Learning that it is OK to grieve—and learning how to grieve—can be beneficial in allowing us to maneuver these traumas, and to integrate a new normal for our lives. Here are a few things that may help you with your grieving journey.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
When you are grieving, it is important to know that your feelings are valid. There is no wrong way to grieve. No one can tell you how you get to feel about your loss. The simple act of acknowledging your feelings to yourself can alleviate some of the stress that might come from having these feelings in the first place. If you feel comfortable doing so, acknowledging and sharing your feelings with those close to you may also help alleviate the heavy burden you are carrying.
For many women, the pain from infertility will never completely go away and there is nothing wrong with you if you feel that pain. The grief of perhaps being unable to have your own biological child may resurface in different ways throughout your life. Reminding yourself that it is always OK to feel may be a helpful step to deal with your grief.
Help your Partner Understand Your Experience
No one can truly understand what you are going through besides you, but it can be beneficial to talk to your partner. Sharing your feelings and teaching your partner how you would like them to talk to you can help to strengthen your partner’s ability to be empathetic and communicate effectively with you. If your partner says something that comes off as dismissive, it is OK for you to gently explain why what they said is hurtful and how it makes you feel. Finding a mutual understanding of one another’s feelings can help alleviate some of the pain you’re experiencing.
Take Care of Yourself During Holidays and Special Events
Christmas, Thanksgiving, baby showers, birthday parties, and other special events might become painful events that only serve to remind you of what you have lost. You may find some relief in being honest with yourself about whether it is in your own best interest to attend or participate in these events and activities. Grief can manifest itself in many ways and it is OK to say no to events that feel too painful for you. It is also OK to find new rituals and traditions that help you to observe significant days in whichever way you see fit. It is OK if you now feel differently about holidays and events that you once enjoyed.
Find a Healthy Outlet for Stress
Fertility issues can be very stressful. Finding ways to manage and relieve your stress can be an act of self-care, as well as a way to help you feel more empowered in your life. Self-empowerment can be especially helpful during a time when it feels as if all of your choices have been taken away.
Exercises and activities that allow you to feel your body, slow down your thoughts, and encourage deep breathing can help us to manage stress.
Find a Support Group
Friends and family may be helpful in making you feel less alone, but sometimes it takes a person who has shared your experience to truly understand your grief. Infertility can take an emotional toll, and finding the right support can help us feel less isolated.
Finding an infertility support group or therapist can help you connect with other women who have also experienced fertility issues and fertility-related grief. More than 6.1 million women have trouble getting pregnant or staying pregnant, meaning that you do not have to go through this alone. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association has an interactive map of local support groups in your area.
Infertility, like most other traumatic events, is painful. But your pain does not have to go unheard. Acknowledging your feelings, communicating with friends and family, and finding support can be the first steps for grieving your loss and beginning to navigate your new normal.
Author Bio Laura Walton is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist in Phoenix, Arizona. She specializes in working with grief and trauma from a mind-body perspective. She is the owner of the Phoenix Center for Grief and Trauma.