Weddings are obviously a very happy occasion to mark the coming together of two people who love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together. Funerals are held to honour a life lost and to provide a chance for everyone who knew them to acknowledge their life and also assist in their grieving process, together with other’s who knew them too.
A ceremony provides the space and time to listen to words being spoken and to be with your thoughts, reflecting on certain times in your life and how what is being said relates to you. At a wedding, you think about your own relationship and you relate the words and feelings to yourself and your partner. At a funeral you think about the person who has passed and what they meant to you.
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 journey you have travelled. It provides you with the space and opportunity for you to be with your thoughts and allows you the 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.
A ceremony for fertility 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 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.
Suffering a fertility problem is a life crisis and should be acknowledged as one, therefore when a loss is suffered, no matter the loss, it should be acknowledged, providing an appropriate chance to acknowledge and 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 friends and family, you may still feel alone and that no one really understands. When you suffer a loss there is nothing tangible to grieve which can make it extremely difficult, especially if you are struggling to come to terms with a loss on your own or just with your partner.
A ceremony provides you the opportunity to acknowledge your journey and the many roads you have travelled on it. 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.
Life is busy and we tend to just get on with our lives, especially if this is a journey you are tackling with limited support or on your own. If people do not know of your fertility problems, then they will not know of your struggles or loss which is difficult. You may not then have the outlet you need to heal. Ceremony provides you this time and space to heal, releasing some of your grief, anger and blame, and to hopefully feel a sense of peace and comfort.
Ceremony can also provide the opportunity to acknowledge a donor or thank your special someone for their continued and unwavering support.
A public ceremony is powerful as it is also a reminder that you are not alone on this journey and that your loss and grief is real. A ceremony provides the chance for you to acknowledge your journey in an empathetic, gentle and appropriate way.
On a personal note, I lost many embryos while trying to achieve my family to both failed implantations and ectopic pregnancies. Even once I had obtained my dream of having a family, I continued to hold on to a lot of grief about these losses, grief that started to consume me. Being a celebrant I understood the importance of marking occasions with ceremony as a healing process to help me move through my grief. My husband did not share this same grief, but was happy to be with me as support.
So I held a ceremony with my husband to acknowledge these beautiful embryos. I still hold them dear to my heart and wear a necklace to honour them, but I no longer feel consumed by my grief. I feel proud to have been able to recognise their importance in my life. They will forever live in my heart.