The ‘Invisible Loss’ of Involuntary Childlessness

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Whilst we don’t appear to have lost anything in a physical sense, many people facing involuntary childlessness suffer a deep sense of ‘loss and grief’ that is invisible to most people around us. Realising that you are not going to have the family you’ve always hoped and dreamed of can feel very isolating. For me, in particular, the grief was overwhelming and intense.

Facing the reality of not being able to have children is heart-breaking, whether trying to conceive a child naturally, using methods of assisted conception (IVF) or arriving at childlessness by another means.

What people don’t see – Invisible losses

The loss associated with involuntary childlessness sits more deeply than simply not being a Mother or Father, since we also lose the:

  • chance and hope of ever having our own biological family
  • celebrations of key milestones with our babies; the first day of school, passing their driving test or getting married
  • chance to see our children play alongside our nieces and nephews
  • experience of sharing holidays & our knowledge
  • opportunity to experience being grandparents (although I appreciate this is not a given)

When does grief strike?

For me, realising that I wasn’t going to be a Mother didn’t just hit me one day. Due to the nature of my fertility investigations and treatment, the reality of our situation was more of a ‘gradual process’. With each failed cycle and loss, I began to recognise that our chances of becoming parents were fading in front of our eyes. With our last IVF cycle treatment failing, all hope was lost. Deciding to stop treatment after 8 years of trying for a baby was extremely difficult and very painful. It is hard to put into words the emotional and physical torment your body, mind and spirit goes through with each failed IVF cycle, allowing yourself the permission to grieve ‘your way’ is essential.

It took time and plenty of ‘grief-work’ for the cloud to lift, but steadily, I began to feel that I could experience joy, hope and happiness again.

Dealing with the grief

  1. Recognising and owning our feelings of hopelessness, anger, disbelief, and bitterness is essential in the first stage of the grieving process. Know that it is ‘OK’ to have a bad day, week, month …! Once we are able to do this, it is the beginning of the healing process.
  2.  Realising that grief is good and tears are a sign that healing is taking place. Communicate with people you trust, a counsellor or on online community support groups – with people who understand what you’re going through.
  3. Give yourself time to do what you need to do. Whether that is taking time out to be in nature, staying in bed or continuing to go to work if it offers you a distraction.
  4. Be kind to yourself: If you’ve had fertility treatment, your body will need time to recover. It’s easy to feel negative towards our bodies for somehow failing us, but nurturing ourselves and our inner child is important.
  5. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) helped deal with the all-consuming sadness I felt. By releasing any energy blockages associated with the treatment, infertility and loss I began to feel more accepting of the situation.

Overall, for me, the psychological loss of ‘a life I thought I was going to have’ was the most significant ‘invisible loss’ associated with involuntary childlessness. There are no rules where grief is concerned, your journey is unique. Grief never goes away completely, but as time goes on, the pain lessens and you’re able to live with your situation.

Kelly Da Silva

EFT/NLP Practitioner and Founder of The Dovecote.org

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Dealing with Involuntary Childlessness Blog

Published: The ‘Invisible Loss’ of Involuntary Childlessness http://huff.to/1LKkLpN via @HuffPoLifestyle

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“Dealing With Involuntary Childlessness”

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Being able to live a happy, fulfilling and purposeful life, when experiencing infertility can seem like an impossible task.

Whatever stage you are at in the fertility journey, becoming a mother or father becomes the centre of your world. Every waking moment you become aware of where you are in your cycle and those on the ‘IVF train’ have the long and often anxious 6 weeks journey of hope, excitement, joy and often disappointment. Unless you’ve been through it….you can’t understand just how difficult the IVF process is, physically, emotionally and the strain created on your close relationships.

We live in a world where society gives us a script of the way we’re ‘supposed’ to live our lives. For many, the ‘Fairy Tale’ is that we get married, have a baby and have another one…this is what is ‘expected’. I’ve been there myself, imagining my ‘perfect life’, my children all sat around the farmhouse kitchen table…living the dream! So when and for whatever reason, our perfect picture or dream is compromised it can set off a whole range of emotions that are very difficult to deal with. Depression and anxiety are often the things that are triggered inside us that we need to deal with.

Dealing with involuntary childlessness is ‘LOSS’ and you need time to ‘grieve’? It’s losing a “life you believed you were going to have”, a life that as little girls we are brought up to think that is what would happen for us. It wasn’t until I realised this that I understood the feelings that were being stirred up and began to realise that it was ‘perfectly normal’ to be feeling sad and vulnerable.

People arrive at ‘involuntary childlessness’ for a variety of reasons. Infertility, marrying a partner who doesn’t want children or leaving it too late, are only a few ways in which it manifests itself. For me, the 8 years struggle trying to conceive was a rollercoaster and there were many dark times.

Dealing with involuntary childlessness can be tough to begin with, but using a variety of tools and techniques it is more than possible to begin to feel joy and happiness again:

Here’s a few tips that helped me get though it:

1. SELF CARE 

Self-care is one of the most important things you can do to help ‘nurture and love your body’. Especially after IVF, reviewing your diet and exercise can be a great way to take back control and give your body what it needs. From taking a long hot bath, treating yourself to lovely food, taking a little walk or time to just be!

2. TIME 

It is a cliché that ‘time heals’, at the time it wasn’t what I wanted to hear but ‘taking one day at a time’ felt much more manageable. I felt that if I could initially just survive each day (whether at home or at work)….that was ENOUGH! Take each day as it comes and try not to beat yourself up.

3. EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE (EFT) 

Having EFT was the most significant thing I ever did with regards dealing with involuntary childlessness. By releasing the blockages within the body, it eliminated the source of the emotional intensity and discomfort. Being able to free the negative emotions, limiting beliefs and feelings of being a failure enabled me to be kinder to myself and release the blame.

4. LOOKING AT ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE 

Having a look at all the areas of your life and ‘identifying things that are not serving you’ is an extremely powerful tool. It is very easy to lose sight of your different roles so setting some time aside to review the level of satisfaction of your job, for example, will again enable you to create a new vision of how your life could be.

5. COMMUNICATION

‘Communication is the key’ to most issues in life. It is very easy to not want to talk about what we’ve been through and feel ashamed but I’ve found it really powerful to connect with people going through the same experience. Having someone who listens to our story, without judgement or giving advice is a priceless gift. We all need to have a ‘space held’ for us where we can express our deepest fears, feelings and anxieties.

Involuntary childlessness is a largely taboo subject but IT IS possible to live a happy, fulfilling and purposeful and AMAZING life without children.

Kelly Da Silva

EFT/NLP Practitioner and Founder of The Dovecote.org

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Facebook page: The Dovecote Facebook Page

Facebook Community Page: The Dovecote Community

Published: “Dealing With Involuntary Childlessness” http://huff.to/1LkLyst via @HuffPoLifestyle