Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology
Dr. Glinda Rawls
Dr. Alan Hovestadt
Dr. Gary Bischof
Dr. Robert Powell
Infertility, miscarriage, reproductive loss, disenfranchised grief, ambiguous loss, qualitative
Infertility and miscarriage are reproductive losses that often produce grief reactions in affected women. This phenomenological study investigated the grief experiences of infertility and miscarriage through the ambiguous loss and disenfranchised grief frameworks in order to better understand both the obscurity of reproductive loss and how the resulting grief may be invalidated.
Sixteen women volunteered to participate in this study and each fell into one of the following three categories: women affected by infertility without miscarriage (4); women affected by miscarriage without infertility (4); and women affected by infertility and miscarriage (8). A phenomenological hermeneutic approach was utilized to uncover the meaning of the participants’ grief experiences related to infertility and miscarriage and the themes that emerged were the result of a recursive process of thematic analysis. Themes that related to the ambiguity of the loss included: (a) loss of normative life experiences; and (b) a more personal loss. Themes that related to how the grief is disenfranchised included: (a) stigma leads to silence; (b) a lack of clear grieving rituals; and (c) elements of insensitive encounters. Finally, themes that related to improving counseling services for affected women included: (a) further training; (b) increasing access to appropriate resources; and (c) characteristics of validating support.
Participants indicated that most people acknowledge that reproductive loss produces grief, however; what they believe can be improved is how other individuals understand the pervasiveness of their pain. Implications for the counseling profession and areas for future research are discussed.
McBain, Tristan, "A Phenomenological Investigation of Women’s Infertility and Miscarriage Grief Experiences" (2019). Dissertations. 3501.