Grief and loss

The many faces of loss

We must distinguish grief from the other thoughts in this section. Grief is not the result of unrealistic or unhelpful thinking. It is a completely natural process that we must acknowledge and let take its course.

Grief is often associated with loss. However, loss can mean different things. It may be due to a miscarriage, but also can be very real even there is no physical loss. Here are some specific types of loss that researchers have identified for women who are experiencing difficulties with conception:

  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Loss of status, as there is a certain expectation for women in today's society
  • Loss of stability in relationships
  • Loss of control over the future
  • Loss of financial security, as treatments are very expensive and can go on indefinitely
  • Loss of positive body image
  • Loss of the future you have always planned for

The loss you feel is something that people who have not been through fertility problems have trouble appreciating. It can be as devastating as the loss of a loved one, yet made all the more difficult by the fact that most people don't understand.

Let it flow

The symptoms of grief can take several forms, from a deep and profound sadness, to emptiness, loneliness and despair. There may also be feelings disbelief, anger and fear. It can even affect your body, leading to illness, weight changes, nausea, etc.

There are no easy answers for dealing with grief, and no rigid formula that works for everyone. However, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not bottle your feelings – ignoring them will not help in the long term.
  • Do not let anyone tell you that you aren't allowed to express your sadness.
  • Feeling sad is not a weakness. Any caring person in your situation would feel the same.
  • Take care of yourself physically. For some people, exercise (ranging from a light walk to intensive workouts) can have an amazing ability to lift your spirit.
  • There is no right way to grieve, so don't be ashamed of your reaction. Some people shed endless tears, while others none at all.

How long will it last?

This is a common question. However, once again there is no "one size fits all" answer. The pain may never go away fully. However, the hope is that your overall well-being will improve over time. Your final goal is acceptance, as opposed to simply "moving on". When we grieve we ask ourselves "why me"? With time this question changes to "why not me"? We learn to accept that life can be challenging and that bad things can happen. These challenges can teach us valuable lessons and help us see meaning in our experiences.

What can I do if it doesn't go away?

Some of the techniques you've learned in the section may be helpful. In particular, you may identify negative thinking that is maintaining your grief for longer than you feel is necessary. Furthermore, the last section of the program will be important, as it will help you to find meaning in your life. Finally, if grief becomes a real problem in your life, I urge you to seek support from a therapist or grief counselor. Your grief should not consume you for years to come.

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love. - Washington Irving