An estimated 1 in 8 couples will be diagnosed with infertility. So, if you’re grieving after your diagnosis, you’re not alone.
Grief is the most common reaction to infertility. Some people grieve their original dream of having biological children, or they grieve their body’s inability to become pregnant or carry a child. Others may also be grieving pregnancy loss. There is often the feeling of loss of control and identity when a person is diagnosed with infertility, and the grieving process is an essential part of rediscovering yourself after infertility.
Wherever you are in your current family-building journey, here a few things to keep in mind and to help you through the infertility grieving process:
Everyone Grieves Differently
If you’re dealing with infertility alongside a partner, it can be difficult if they grieve differently than you do, or if they process their feelings at a different pace. Your friends and family may also grieve for you in their own way.
Be patient with them and with yourself.
It can be frustrating or lonely when everyone is hurting, but try to stay compassionate with one another. Continue to communicate how you’re feeling and what you need from others.
Responses to infertility can manifest in different ways for different people, including:
- Anger or blame
- Feelings of guilt or shame
- Sadness or depression
- Numbness or emotional detachment
- Disbelief or denial through seeking help from many different health professionals
- Hyper-focusing on your infertility and having an inability to concentrate on anything else
- Trying to ignore your infertility by focusing on everything else
After learning of their infertility, one partner may tend to bury themselves in their infertility diagnosis, while the other may avoid it as much as possible. Grieving differently can make a painful time even harder, but try to continue to support one another as you deal with your emotions on your own terms.
Ways to Help Heal from Infertility Grief
Not sure how to start making peace with what you’re feeling? Here are a few methods that can help you begin processing your infertility grief:
- Create a representative space to honor lost pregnancies or lost dreams of having a child in the way you’d initially hoped for. This could be a space on a shelf where you put items you purchased for a child, or a garden that you plant and care for.
- Write about your thoughts and feelings. Putting pen to paper through journaling or through letters to a lost child or a future baby can help you look at your emotional progress and see hope for a different path to parenthood someday.
- Use creative outlets or hobbies to keep from falling into depression or hyper-focusing on your diagnosis. Keep hiking, running, making jewelry or whatever you like to do to help get back to feeling like yourself.
- Talk to others. Join a local infertility support group, talk to your partner, friends or family members that you feel will listen the best. Consider talking to an infertility counselor.
- Plan for things you can look forward to, such as concerts, taking a trip, visiting friends, or taking classes of something you’ve always been interested in, whether that’s cooking or boxing. This can help if you’ve felt like you’re not in control lately, and it also gives you a few fun things in the future to look forward to.
There’s no right or wrong way to tackle your infertility grief. As long as you’re acknowledging that grief and giving yourself the time you need to begin feeling at peace, then you’re doing great.
Move Forward When You’re Ready
Moving forward means that you may need to let go of painful things that can hold you back from living a full and happy life. That may be letting go of your dreams of having a child who is biologically related to you or carrying a pregnancy yourself, or letting go of miscarriages or children you’ve lost. This doesn’t mean that you’ll forget what you’ve experienced, but it does mean that you’re ready to take the next step in your life. Moving forward is a necessary step after the grieving process, and it looks different for everyone.
When you feel like you’re ready to move forward after experiencing infertility grief, there are different paths your life can take:
- You may decide to try fertility treatments or IVF.
- You might work with a gestational surrogate and/or egg and sperm donors to help you have a child.
- You may be comfortable with adopting a child who is not biologically related to you.
- You might decide that your life will be full, happy and meaningful with or without children.
There is no right or wrong way to move on from infertility. There’s also no timeline for reaching the point where you feel ready to move forward. People reach that point at their own pace, so be patient with yourself and with loved ones. This is a process that’s personal and unique to everyone.
Some important things to remember:
- You’re not alone — many people come to terms with infertility and understand what it’s like to grieve.
- You’ll be happy again, and you’ll find a new path for your life and you can be a parent if you want to, even if it’s not in the way you’d originally planned.
- Be kind with yourself and others, and don’t be afraid to seek infertility grief counseling if you need to.
Infertility grief is difficult but it is manageable with some work, and you will heal. Until then, take care of yourself. When you are ready to start discussing your family-building options, know that American Surrogacy is here to help.