The grief that infertile couples go through over their inability to have a child is often treated as if it is not real grief, or as if it is a lesser grief than miscarriage, stillbirth, or other deaths. But the truth is, that for these families, the sorrow they feel is just as real and just as deep as the sorrow felt by parents who have lost a child in any other way. But because of the nature of infertility, it is an invisible grief, and is often very lonely. Admittedly, I have no idea what it is to lose a child at any stage in a pregnancy, and in no way do I want to diminish that pain. The inability to conceive at all is not necessarily a worse grief than the inability to carry a pregnancy to term, but to the family that is grieving, it is still a very deep hurt. Different, yes, but still deep.
Why is it that the grief of infertility is invisible?
Here are a few thoughts on how our grief sometimes differs.
1. We don’t get to have a funeral, memorial service, or any type of formal or public ceremony to grieve.
2. Most people do not send cards, flowers, or bring over a meal.
3. We do not get to take bereavement time off from work.
4. We don’t have a grave to visit, or ashes to scatter.
5. We have no pictures, baby clothes, or other mementos.
6. We don’t have a name to remember, to talk about, or in which to give memorial flowers or gifts.
7. We don’t have any hope, even by the grace of God, of seeing our child in the Resurrection.
8. There is no due date, birthday, or anniversary on which we are remembered by family and friends.
9. Each day, month, and year that we fail to conceive is like another death to us. It’s difficult to heal from something that is not an “event,” but rather a state of being.
10. We don’t get recognized on Mother’s Day as mothers who have lost a child.
11.We don’t get to wear a Mother’s Ring or other jewelry with a stone representing our child.
Our grief is invisible. But it is just as real.