Death and Non-existence: The same thing.... almost

It's Thursday during the 31 days of Blogging October. Guess what that means? Yep! Jeremy is blogging again (and promises another for each Thursday in October!) Enjoy his perspective that genuinely brought tears to my eyes... more than once. Definitely worth a read.-- Becky

When we started this process of fertility treatments (and failed treatments month after month), Beck said she was feeling the same kind of loss as when members of her family passed away.Fortunately for me, at the time, I had not yet experienced that feeling. Sadly, as those of you who read this know, that changed this past January with the unexpected passing of my father. For those of you who have lost a loved one, you have some understanding of what we are going through each day from here until... well, who knows.

Let me back up a second. I think that Beck was talking about an acute and constant loss that she experienced, or at least that is how I understood her actions, emotions, and thoughts during all of these trying times. For me, it is different. When Beck lost her mother, she was just out of college and spent less than 6 months of her entire life living more than 1 hour away from "home." When she lost her grandmother, we had just moved away about 18 months before. When she wasn't physically with them, she talked to them practically daily. Those people were a constant presence in her life.

My father and I had a different sort of relationship. Growing up, he was not typically present for several big childhood moments because he worked on rotating shifts. Additionally, he rarely understood where my point of view was coming from (and visa versa, I am the oddball politically/philosophically in the family). Thankfully, I had that time where I grew into adulthood and understood the wisdom of my father. Yet, he was not a day-to-day presence in my life. I tend to call family once every week (Becky's note.... more like twice a month)  or so (sorry mom...).

In my grief, what I have found is that there is not a constant longing or sense of something missing, but it is more of an episodic emotion. The most random of things can remind me of him. Things such as a stranger walking past wearing his cologne, someone saying something that sounds like it was one of his pearls of wisdom, or when I find a joke and end up thinking how badly I want to tell him. At that moment, my heart just falls. While I have lost a large amount of weight this year, in those moments, it feels like it's all back and plus some because of the emotional burden. Many of those people close to me feel as if I haven't dealt with the loss of my father in a healthy way because they don't see me cry; however, I do feel that and work through it when it happens.

My experience with infertility is exactly like my experience in grieving my father. I do not get upset when I am dealing with newborns in a store or the seemingly endless supply of pregnant ladies at work. What gets me are the moments where I see something that makes me think “My kid would have to have that...,” or those moments where you are trapped in dealing with a child (like when a colleague brings it to work repeatedly even when they are “out” on maternity leave). One especially trying moment was when Beck and I were in Target and there were literally 5 blonde-hair, blue-eyed children yelling, screaming, and crying around me... and when both of us are blonde-hair, blue-eyed (ok, maybe green-eyed), it just hits me sometimes how that could be me. Nothing brings that feeling on more than watching a parent completely ignore, or worse, be inappropriately negative to their children.

I want nothing more at this point in my life than to grow my family by whatever means necessary. That is what drives me to go through the fertility treatments, but it is not an all-consuming feeling in my life. Only certain times, when I am forced to resolve myself to the fact that it has not happened for us yet, does it really bring me down. This is the exact same way I have grieved for my father. I guess coping with death and coping with infertility are virtually identical; the only difference being that there is nothing to hold on to in grieving for someone that has never existed.

Is it the same for you? Has infertility been a type of grief that is like losing a loved one? Or, is your grief from infertility different? Join the conversation in the comments below!


  1. This post is just beautiful. "I guess coping with death and coping with infertility are virtually identical; the only difference being that there is nothing to hold on to in grieving for someone that has never existed." I complete agree, with the the caveat that I have quite the collection of embryo photos and I feel like they did exist, briefly, some longer than others, which only makes the loss harder. But that feeling of loss of the experience, of seeing a family that could be ours and wondering if we'll ever get can take your breath away. It is definitely grief. A constant, continuing, cumulative pool of grief. It's hope that keeps us going despite the box 'o lost embryos, hope that one day we'll come out the other side, battered by the grief but still able to hold on to hope. I hope the same for you and Becky!


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