Women having difficulty conceiving and/or suffering pregnancy loss are often experiencing tremendous amounts of grief. Some may not even be aware that their feelings are those of grief, because how do you grieve something you never had? How do you grieve someone you’ve never met? This is known as “invisible grief”.
For the woman having difficulty conceiving — she may be grieving the loss of the family she envisioned, the number of children she planned, the spacing of her children, the plans she made for her future. For the woman experiencing pregnancy loss or stillbirth, she may be grieving the loss of a baby, or the loss of an idea, a vision, or a dream. It is different for everyone. However, the underlying theme is the same: invisible grief.
Why is this form of grief “invisible”? For a few reasons:
- People don’t talk about it.
- Her family and friends may not know that she was pregnant, or that she was even trying to become pregnant.
- People are uncomfortable with other people’s pain and vulnerability and tend to shy away from the subject.
- People believe they can’t be empathic if they haven’t experienced the same situation.
Ultimately, the woman grieving is often left to experience very intense, painful, and complicated feelings all on her own. Including, but not limited to the following:
-Feelings of guilt, shame, and failure
-Feelings of relief, especially if the pregnancy was unplanned or unwanted
-Physical symptoms including headaches, fatigue, digestive issues, and sleep problems
If you’re experiencing invisible grief, how can you cope? Everyone handles grief and loss differently, and there’s no one way. Here are a few places to start:
- Talking about it with a trusted friend or relative. You may be surprised how many people have experienced something similar. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable may allow someone else to as well.
- Connecting with other women who have experienced similar situations. Connect through mutual friends, social media, Facebook groups, or attend a local support group.
- Create a ritual or ceremony to remember and honor the lost baby.
- Seek treatment with a therapist. Often women trying to conceive move on without spending the time to grieve and process the loss. Speaking with an objective support person may help with healing process.
Remember, you are not alone.