News and Research
How to mark the end of your fertility journey
This information has been put together as suggestions to assist in the “coming to an end” of your fertility journey. Please feel free to use whatever ideas or wording you choose. It was designed to assist those who need to mark or find closure on this extremely important part of your life.
Suffering a fertility problem is a life crisis and should be acknowledged as one, therefore if a loss is suffered, no matter the loss, it is appropriate to acknowledge it and provide yourself a chance to grieve.
Being on a fertility journey can also be a lonely struggle as many keep this to themselves and, even if you share your journey with others, even if these people are friends and family, you may still feel alone and that no one really understands the true extent of what you have been through.
When you suffer a loss there is nothing tangible to grieve which can be extremely difficult, especially if you are struggling to come to terms with a loss on your own or with your partner. By acknowledging your loss, the hope is that you find some relief in your sadness, feeling a sense of peace and comfort, leaving you ready to embrace another passage of your life or continue on the same one with increased hope and vigour.
Below are some suggestions on how you can mark your loss or the ending of your fertility journey. If you choose to do something, whatever you choose to create, remember to do what feels right for you so you can move on to the next part of your life feeling a sense of empowerment, healing and closure. Make sure that what you have created has meaning and resonates with you personally.
- Create a Memory Box with all your special items included such as early embryo and scan pictures, pregnancy test results, letters from the fertility clinics with appointment times. Anything you have kept that feels special and is a reminder of your journey.
- Create a journal of special dates so you can mark these occasions with special thoughts, words or poems.
- Create or purchase a special piece of jewellery, for example with crystals, charms or even seeds to acknowledge your loss.
- Plant a tree, maybe one that blooms in the month your baby was to be born. Think about planting something in a pot so it can be easily moved if you move.
- Choose a flower special to you and float it down a stream or set it out to sea.
- Buy a decoration for your Christmas tree to acknowledge your loss – may be an angel, but something which has meaning for you.
- Light candles or even have a special one made.
- Write some words in the sand and wait for the waves to wash them away.
- Write some words on a piece of paper and set them afloat and watch them drift downstream.
- Get a tattoo. Remember that this is permanent on your body so only do this if you really have something in mind that you are happy to be a part of you for the rest of your life.
- Write a letter as this can be a powerful way of saying what you want that you have not previously said out loud.
- Attend a public ceremony, currently held in the month of May in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch (looking to extend further in 2022). A public ceremony is powerful as it is a reminder that you are not alone on this journey and that your loss and grief is real.
- Perform your own ceremony. A ceremony provides the chance for you to acknowledge your journey in an empathetic, gentle and appropriate way. Ideas for the ceremony can be found in the book “Be Fertile With Your Infertility” by Christine Bannan and Winnie Duggan. Winnie leads the Public Ceremony in Wellington.
If you decide to undertake your ceremony on your own, remember to treat your ceremony with the respect it deserves. Take whatever time you need to organise what it is you would like to do and spend some time thinking about and writing some special words to be read, either by yourself or maybe a partner, family member or friend.
However, you choose to mark your journey, you are held back by your imagination only. Take some time to think about what you would like to do so that you can look back on this knowing that what you did worked for you.
Ceremony for infertility
Ceremonies are a way to mark an occasion or to honour and acknowledge someone or something in your life. When you think of ceremonies you will automatically think of weddings and funerals because these are the ceremonies that we know occur every day and you would no doubt have been to one or the other in your lifetime.
A lot happens to you emotionally and physically while going through fertility treatments. A ceremony for fertility can help by marking these occasions in a gentle but meaningful way and can also remind you of the many roads you have travelled on during your journey.
A ceremony for infertility can be held for different reasons. You could have lost embryos along the way due to discarding, failed implantations or ectopic pregnancies and are struggling with the loss of these; you could have suffered a miscarriage or multiple miscarriages and due to the early stage of the pregnancy, you were not provided with the necessary grieving platform to say goodbye such as with a funeral; you may already have a child but are struggling to conceive your second; you could be at the beginning of your fertility journey but are in a state of shock over even being in this situation and are grieving the loss of what you feel is your natural right to have children, or you may have come to the end of your fertility journey and need to mark the end of this huge part of your life while coming to terms with leading a life of childlessness.
The ceremony can help by making the intangible, tangible by putting words to your feelings and allowing you the space to recognise your loss and to help you move through your grief. With an infertility journey, you don’t have anything physically to grieve, but mentally you have a lot. It provides you with the space and opportunity for you to be with your thoughts and allows you time to recognise and grieve your loss, whatever the loss may be, think about the many facets of your journey and the great significance and importance of them, how you have been affected and how you may need to grieve and heal.
Ceremonies can be as big or as little as you wish and those struggling to come to terms with their continuing or completed fertility journey and all it has entailed would not necessarily want or require a ceremony where family and friends come to acknowledge the path they have been on and their loss. Your loss is private and special to you, grieved for by you and sometimes has been suffered in secrecy. Present at your ceremony can be just you and someone special – a partner, friend or someone of great support to you. If you have not been provided with the outlet you need to heal, the ceremony can provide you with this time and space, releasing some of your grief, anger and blame, and to hopefully feel a sense of peace and comfort.