Circumstantial childlessness, disenfranchised grief and clinical implications

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Harowitz, Peggy
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Childlessness is on the rise in Western nations around the world but the reasons for it are largely unrecognized. Common thinking holds that individuals either actively choose not to have children or that they are unable to do so because of medical infertility. The reality, however, is that the vast majority of childless individuals actually fall into the category of being ‘childless by circumstance'. This manuscript style thesis explores the growing phenomenon of circumstantial childlessness amongst women in industrialized nations. First it seeks to understand how circumstantial childlessness is unique from other forms of childlessness and why it is both extremely stigmatized and misunderstood. Next this thesis aims to understand and make sense of the silence, invisibility and largely disenfranchised grief that surrounds this experience. Finally, it highlights some of the clinical implications and potential biases for counsellors working with this population to be aware of and discusses some relevant clinical interventions.
circumstantial childlessness , social infertility , involuntary childlessness , pronatalism , disenfranchised grief , chronic sorrow , clinical implications