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  • Writer's pictureLauren G.

Sadness and despair: you are not alone

Struggling with infertility or loss can be a time of deep pain and sorrow, even to the point of having suicidal thoughts. Social media is filled with family photos and birth announcements. We open our emails to see invitations for baptisms and Holy Communion parties. Although we are happy for our friends and family, we are left wondering: “when will it be my turn?”


These thoughts can escalate into sadness and despair. For some, this might become depression, for others anxiety. Infertility and pregnancy loss can truly be a form of trauma. The symptoms can cause a disruption in our lives. We may notice that we’re arguing with our spouse more frequently, or we are isolating from loved ones, and it’s tempting to hide from God when we really need to be moving closer to Him. You may go to Mass and as you see the families fill the pews it may be painful. Seeing social media posts of children celebrating holidays and birthdays makes us long for these occasions and milestones of our own.


Let’s talk about it

This was my experience. It took time for me to heal and I continue to work on healing every day. As I started growing in prayer, I started to talk more openly about my experience with infertility and pregnancy loss. Through these open discussions, I discovered many Catholic women were struggling as well and were too ashamed to open up about what was going on, some were even having suicidal thoughts. Honestly, I wish clergy and other church leaders spoke more openly about suicide and suicidal thoughts. Suicidal thoughts are not always a result of depression. These thoughts can be a result of grief, loss, hurt, or confusion. Suicidal thoughts may come and go. They do not make us bad Catholics. These thoughts mean we need more help and support. It is essential that we turn to the sacraments, adoration, spiritual reading and the lives of saints when we are struggling.


All you holy men and women: pray for us

Whenever I struggle, I turn to Venerable Fulton Sheen. However, there are many saints that you can turn to when you’re facing sadness and despair. St. Dymphna is the patron saint of mental health challenges. Saints such as St. Elizabeth Ann Seton were tempted by suicide. St. Ignatius Loyola fought against negative thoughts. St. Teresa of Calcutta wrote about spiritual doubt and loneliness. St. John of the Cross wrote about the Dark Night of the Soul. We may even find ourselves calling upon the intercession of St. Rita and St. Jude, patron saints of impossible causes. The list of holy men and women who have battled these struggles goes on and on. As I heard in a homily recently: “saints didn’t become saints because they were perfect; saints became saints because they suffered and persevered.”



You are not alone

You needn’t feel alone because you are not alone. If you start to notice negative or even suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone. There are many people available to help. Remember, healing is not a “one-size fits all” approach; mental health counseling can be combined with prayer and the sacraments. There are websites that can link to Catholic therapists, such as mycatholicdoctor.com or catholictherapists.com.


How to help

You may be reading this thinking, “this doesn’t apply to me”. However, you most likely know someone that is struggling. It’s a misconception that bringing up the topic of suicide causes someone to think about it more. The truth is that by bringing it up, we are helping validate what that person is feeling and experiencing. It can actually help them open up more. We must be careful that we do not shame them or offer advice. Instead, encourage them to talk to you and join you in prayer. Remind the person that they are loved. If you are concerned about them, connect them to local resources, including a local church pastor or local counseling center.

If you are having thoughts of hurting yourself, or thoughts of killing yourself, please seek help immediately by:

  • calling 911 (USA & Canada) or 999 (UK);

  • calling 988 (USA’s Suicide & Crisis lifeline) or 0800 689 5652 (UK’s National Suicide Prevention helpline);

  • calling the emergency or suicide hotline in your country (find one here);

  • or going to your local emergency room.

There are many people out there that want to help you.



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