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The invisible loss

This week I came across a brilliant article by journalist Samantha Brick. In the article, Brick speaks openly about her experience of not being able to conceive, and the lack of understanding she has experienced from others about this. It dawned on me that there is really such a lack on the topic of childlessness and the pain of the struggle to conceive.

In her article, Brick accurately comments that the inability to conceive arouses a unique type of grief that sadly, often isn’t supported by society; “To put it bluntly, grieving for a child who never lived isn't, in the eyes of our world, a legitimate form of grief.” While this may be how society sees unsuccessful IVF attempts (and the tired saying ‘you can’t miss what you have never had’ comes to mind); I whole heartedly agree with Brick when she comments that it is healthy and right to grieve over our lost dreams. As a therapist working with fertility issues, I have most definitely witnessed those I work with feel completely bereft over the possibility of not being able to conceive a child and be all encompassed by the sadness of a failed IVF attempt.

It is very much a loss, and it very much needs to be acknowledged and recognised.

While there are some brilliant writers who have published books on their own experiences; (such as Jessica Hepburn and Jody Day) there remains to be considerably little information around what to do when IVF attempts fail to work. There is an abundance of services (especially within private the private sector) that aim to provide and guide women through the IVF journey, but if a live pregnancy is not the end result, this seems to be the end of the road in regard to information, help and support. Many women are left wondering where do I go from here? I feel that this lack of guidance reflects on society’s tendency to not acknowledge a failed IVF round as something that warrants genuine grief and sympathy. The words from Rhiannon Lucy seem to be very poignant her 'Having a baby is hard, but the grief of not being able to have one can be even harder.'

It would serve society very well to remember the final words of Samantha’s article when speaking of those who cannot have children:

‘We're here, we live among you and while we're happy for your families, our melancholy and pain is real’.

To read the full article in the daily mail, please follow the link here.

If you feel you could benefit from counselling for fertility issues, please feel free to visit

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