By Ryan Jacobson, Contributing Writer Five years into our marriage and still no children. We had tried it all -- test after test, doctor after doctor, procedure after procedure. Every "specialist" to whom we were referred claimed to have the solution, yet nothing worked. No one knew what was wrong with us physically. Worse still, no one knew what was wrong with us emotionally -- not even we did. A Death In The Family Grief is the most selfish of all emotions, and infertility is grief -- a grief that no one else quite understands. In fact, most people don't have a clue. When you are suffering through infertility, every day that you awaken NOT PREGNANT opens a new wound. It's another death in the family. Yes, the pain can be that significant. Every minute of every day is spent mourning the loss of a child -- your child. They say that time heals all wounds, but not this one. Time is your enemy. Every day is another funeral, another failure. At least, that's how my wife and I felt. I Am Alone If you've ever experienced the loss of a loved one, you might have a frame of reference for what I am describing. That's not to belittle the grief associated with death, nor is it to say that the feelings are one and the same. They aren't. But they do share the emotional exhaustion, the intensity of pain and the complete isolation. You are alone and helpless. Even your spouse, your partner, your love, your rock --they are absent; they cannot be there because their daily heartbreak isolates them, too. Infertility is death, but with this tragedy there is no funeral. There is no gathering of friends and family. There is no closure. And as so often is the case, when you need your support system most, you haven't the strength to ask for help. No one will take care of you because they do not know they are needed. You break all ties, further isolating yourself. You can't go out because -- heaven forbid -- you may see someone pregnant or with a young child. You start skipping birthday parties. Family reunions are out of the question because Cousin Martha has a baby on the way. Getting together "just to hang out" is no fun because they don't understand. (And who wants to be with a bunch of happy people anyway?) If you're religious, you might even start asking yourself, "Can I love a God who will not give me a child?" You're left without the energy or the will to so much as dial a telephone. Your loved ones begin to wonder, "What's their problem?" Soon you become a punch line. "What do you think their excuse will be this time?" And then you realize that your support system is gone. Now, even if you mustered the courage to reach out, to ask for help, there would be no one left to answer. What Should I Do? I decided to write about infertility because you need to know. If you are struggling with infertility issues, recognize your grief. Acknowledge it. Then send this page to everyone you know. That's all you have to do for now. Your loved ones will take care of the rest. How Can I Help Someone I Love? If you know someone who is having difficulty starting a family, understand that they need you. I can't tell you what they need, except to know that you are there for them unconditionally. Your relationship will likely be a little bumpy for a while. Heck, it might be a lot bumpy. You must take it upon yourself to single-handedly keep the relationship alive. Touch base often, and make time to hang out (even if you have to drag them, kicking and screaming the whole way). If you have kids, leave them at home -- your joy is their heartbreak. And realize that quality, one-on-one time is far better than big, blowout parties. Resist that natural human tendency to "keep score." It doesn't matter if you've called them 10 times in row and they haven't reciprocated. They probably don't have the strength. Like I mentioned before, you're entering a stretch of time in which you may have to do all of the work. Hopefully, the day will never come when it's their turn to do the same. But if it does, you can bet they'll be there for you. At least once a week, you also need to ask specifically about their infertility and how things are going. I know: "Infertility" is a scary word to vocalize, but do it anyway. Maybe they won't want to talk about it. Respect that. But maybe they need to vent. Listen and be supportive; that alone will go a long way. Finally, I want to encourage you to be persistent. This isn't a grief that gets easier with time. It gets harder. The longer they go through this, the more painful it will become and the more they will need you. Happy Endings When you're in the grasp of infertility it may be hard to believe, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There will be a happy ending. For a vast majority of people, infertility is a "curable" condition. That means it is likely you and your partner will give birth to a child. Granted, it may take you a little longer to get there (and, no, it isn't fair). You may find yourself taking a different path than you expected, but you WILL have a family of your own. The Adoption Option My wife and I count ourselves among the minority. After our final medical procedure put Lora's life at risk, we had to admit it: We will probably never be able to conceive. Thus, infertility led us to adoption. It was a path we initially resisted. After all, choosing adoption means laying your dream of a biological child to rest. Speculative questions such as, "Will he have Lora's eyes?" or "Do you think she'll love to write like I do?" become painfully meaningless. But the good news is this: We couldn't possibly love our son more. Better yet, it was all worth it. The heartache, the tears, the lost friends and burned bridges brought us to our son. And we'd do it all over again -- every last bit of it -- if Jonah were our reward. I won't tell you that adoption is your answer. No one can make that decision, except you. (Like I said, Lora and I resisted that solution for a very long time.) But I can tell you that, one way or another, you can and will experience the joy of having your own child. ____ Touching!