At the annual ADEC (Association of Death Education and Counseling), I spoke with Dr Darcy Harris about families and their struggles with infertility and the unacknowledged loss.

Darcy originally got interested in this topic when she was doing research on couples going through infertility treatment. The language they were using was the language of grief and loss even though there wasn’t a death in the traditional sense. They were mourning the loss of baby they were hoping for but never appeared.

That experience got Darcy thinking more about non-death related loss. There is still a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to these experiences, which Darcy goes on to discuss in detail in the video below.


Here are some key takeaways from the video:

  • What people don’t realize about non-death loss through infertility is that people are grieving the future they thought they were going to have. It feels like a minimized loss because people don’t extend the support they normally would if it were a death-related loss.
  • There is a misunderstanding when it comes to infertility. There are a lot of media reports that lead people to conclude if you’re infertile, all you have to do is go to the doctor and you can have a baby. That’s usually not how it happens.
  • Often you don’t know when people are going through a non-death loss because it’s such a private issue. But if you do know someone who is going through infertility treatment, recognize that it’s a very hard thing to do.
  • Those who are going through infertility treatment may want to be private and not talk too much about it, but what they have been through is indeed a loss.
  • Just like with any other loss there is uncertainty, and your whole life ends up revolving around infertility treatments and wanting to have a child.

For more video interviews, please see the Open To Hope YouTube channel.

Heidi Horsley

Dr. Heidi Horsley is a licensed psychologist, social worker, and bereaved sibling. She co-hosts the award-winning weekly cable television show and podcast, Open to Hope. Dr. Heidi is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University, and an award-winning author, who has co-authored eight books, and serves on the United Nations Global Mental Health Task Force. She also serves on the Advisory Boards for the Tragedy Assistance Program, the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Foundation, and Peace of Mind Afghanistan. She served on the National Board of Directors for The Compassionate Friends, and for 10 yrs. worked on a Columbia University research study looking at traumatic loss over time in families who lost a firefighter in the World Trade Center.

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