I am trying to find the words to describe a situation in which plans fail or are destined to fail because of circumstance rather than a lack of merit. More specifically, the imagery I'm working towards is meant to evoke growth, development, potential, and life. By contrast and absence I would make perceptible what the non-development, non-growth, still-born outcome would be. I'd prefer to stay clear of the dead baby imagery in favour of imagery of a passive or weak state from which the failure originates. I believe I've heard something the British have to describe this. Thanks!