Reflections on Grief and Feeling

You can find my latest round on Lesley Pyne’s blog HERE, dear readers.

I had mentioned in a comment on her site that I had taken my grief head on.  She asked me what that meant and if I’d be willing to write about it.

How refreshing to have someone stop and pay attention to that which most people want to avert!!  An important reminder of the power of community.  And that our involuntarily childless club needs to grieve and mourn just like any other set of humans who lost a key component in their lives that was near and dear to them.

And so I did write reflections on my grief journey and included some tools that have been useful to me that hopefully others will find empowering too.







15 thoughts on “Reflections on Grief and Feeling

  • Great post. The part about how outsiders like to applaud people for “keeping it together” in times of grief has always appalled me – it reminds me of how people love to use terms like “warrior” and “survivor” and even “strong”, making many of us feel like we are less than acceptable human beings if we are not. Or my favorite, “she refuses to be a victim” which I hear in rape cases a lot, which is total bullshit, as it blames the person who was attacked (or in infertility cases, diagnosed) if they – very understandably – emotionally fall apart or have a hard time getting back up.

    Oh and Yin Yoga? I’ve actually experienced fear of my YY dvd at times as I know it will bring out ALL the feelings. Magic stuff…

    • YES!! Love these observations. I feel as though the term “victim” has taken on such an unnecessarily negative connotation in our language. To me it simply means one was the unfortunate recipient of something they did nothing to invite or ask for. To me saying I’m the victim of something makes no judgement on my attitude towards recovery one way or the other. Symptomatic of our cultural need for everyone to “rise above” I suppose. It averts that there are a lot of experiences in life where it’s normal to “fall apart” or have a hard time getting back up as you refer to. And yes, there definitely seems to be an implied hierarchy in recovery where the person showing the most feeling is often the one judged as “not doing well”. I really hope that they way we define “strong” in our culture is slowly shifting…….

      And I’m sure fear of YY dvd’s is entirely normal:-)

      • Facing your fears – way to go! I’m going to go out on a limb and say the pressure canners fear is normal too, what the heck. No injuries sustained, I hope.

  • Sarah, your post made me realize that I’ve been training myself to not feel (mostly because it gets me in trouble at work). Thank you for the insight. Maybe now I can feel more open to grieving instead of internalizing everything.

    • What an amazing realization! Wishing you well in creating some more safe space for yourself.

      I’m reading “The One Thing Holding You Back” by Raphael Cushnir on the general subject of emotional connection. He makes a lot of impactful and informative points but so far it’s also practical and easy to read.

      • Thanks for the book recommendation. I just downloaded it 🙂

      • Let me know what you think. I’m only part way through. It doesn’t deal with the specific experience of grief, or at least not yet. I mention this because I’ve found reading about the subject of grief to be incredibly helpful and validating too, though I realize not everyone necessarily feels this way.

  • a couple of thoughts…
    I understand that you are coming from a place of knowing that your trying to conceive journey has ended. I am myself coming from a place of uncertainty if where I am at or headed to. I often feel as though I am grieving at the same time as trying to conceive, and that I am having to somehow balance hope and positive feelings with despair in life not turning out. I don’t even know if grief is the right word for what I feel, but it certainly is a limbo land that at times makes detachment and numbing seem like a desirable coping strategy. I pretty much do yoga every day to stay connected within.
    … I wonder if this prolonged state of limbo in the land of fertility treatments, prior to making the call to be childless, makes the grieving process that much more complicated.
    Another point I wanted to make is that I think people’s discomfort with infertility, and really with any situation in which someone actually is a ‘victim’, is just a reflection of people’s discomfort with the fact of injustice in the world. People generally want to believe that if something bad happens to someone, there might have been something that could have prevented it, or that it somehow is their fault.. (look up “the just world hypothesis”)… This also relates to thoughts of “worthlessness” or “badness” for people who are struggling with fertility (because if I am worthless or bad then this is fair).
    Accepting unfairness is hard.

    • Glad you pointed this out. I’m not sure what the right word is either for this limbo where one is in an immense amount of pain, perhaps with mounting losses and dealing with intense uncertainty but the end is unresolved, work is still left to be done. It’s a limbo purgatory of sorts. Though I processed the best I could in between treatments, what I was capable of doing in that situation was limited, time and energy wise as well as because of what I needed to get through the next treatment. Grieving fully in this state (especially since we did treatments in pretty rapid succession) was not possible. I get what you mean regarding a certain level of detachment and numbing being necessary in the trenches of trying to conceive. I think the unique limbo with which we deal definitely makes the grieving process more complicated, since most of us have carried grief to deal with whatever the final outcome.

      Good for you with the yoga – what a commitment – I know how hard it is to stay in your body while going through this, even with some level of consistency.

      Just looked up the “just world hypothesis” and I’m so excited (the things that get me excited these days – weird!!). Another good one to look up – “Illusion of control”. Having gone through what I’ve gone through I’ve been baffled by people’s belief in a just and orderly universe – thanks for pointing me towards a repository of knowledge and people who have actually studied this stuff! It was a long hard journey for me to not believe in a just, or an unjust for that matter, world. I have to remind myself not everyone has been pushed to where many of have been pushed. Accepting unfairness is hard, but also necessary for a compassionate world, I think.

  • Just for the record, I commented on Lesley’s blog. I totally agree that we need to recognise the grief, and there’s no option but to feel it. Ultimately, we’re better for it.

  • Thank you for this wonderful text. Ending up childless is still a taboo where I live. And grief certainly is one, too. Reading from others how they went through it or are still going through it is SO helpful!

    Maybe you can’t be “strong” in the traditional sense when you grieve, but I do think we are brave when we accept our feelings and ride with the waves. For me this is proof of much more strength than “keeping it together”!

    • Glad this was helpful, if we don’t read about the grief processes of other childless women, it is all too easy to feel like the only one, isn’t it? And thanks for the vote of confidence in terms of strength – our world view of what it is to be strong is yet one more thing that got involuntarily chewed up, spit out and re-vamped.

  • I loved this quote: “practicing the art of being in what is”. I too am a yoga teacher and practitioner and yoga/meditation has been such a healing balm to my soul after infertility. Thank you for this piece!

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