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Overcoming Infertility Grief

Last week I posted about the kind of grief that flows from infertility. And primarily about using self advocacy as a grieving tool, on top of the typical few recommendations for grievers.

You've probably heard of the "stages of grief": Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. I've heard it recommended to look at these as a general description, not a prescription. I've also heard grief in actuality varies so much person to person, "stages" is a misnomer. Grief is not so tame. In my experience all five were part of my first decade of infertility. I was in denial for a few years, believing I was pregnant practically every cycle. The middle three stages blended together over the course of many years, ending with a whole year I was totally "checked out", in which depression and anger were dulled with a huge dose of numb in little blue pills. That bitter period, I withdrew from everyone around me, and I almost destroyed my marriage toward the end of it. In a way, the near decimation of my marriage was my wake up call. I had to accept. The problem with my "acceptance stage" of recent years is that I see no end. And the culprit is hope. As long as you have a reason to hope to be a mom, I reckon acceptance will turn out to be a very long stage. There isn't a definite acceptance of my childlessness, my resolution is delayed. And even after that ship sails, infertility is still an ambiguous loss.

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Hope is a two edged sword: "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." Proverbs 13:12a. But it's also bleak to stop hoping. If there IS hope, we are programmed to hold onto that. Without a child, distant finality will one day herald the sunset of my acceptance stage. Hope of biological children will need to be totally replaced by the resilience we've been building all along.

Overcoming infertility grief demands resilience. Don't believe the lie that you lack resilience, you made it through childhood for one. It was (more than likely) demanded then. Grief can make us feel like we're spinning out of control, and that can put us in a not so "fun house" (those amusement park attractions that usually include an array of distorting mirrors). Anger and depression, even anxiety, can make the fun house even more trippy, even debilitating. Grief isn't the enemy. I'm not keen on calling infertility the enemy either. The fun house is... mainly because it distorts the keys to resilience that will help us react healthily to grief and recover. I found PBS's guideWhat is resilience? which answers that question and covers factors that contribute to resilience, it's connection to happiness, trauma's connection to personal growth and more. Since I'm categorizing this post as Infertility (Not so devotional), the Resilience themed devotional bubbling up inside me will have to wait until next week!

© Anna Infertile


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