Knowing how to help those walking through infertility can be hard... let us help you gain some useful help and guidance:
Talking with someone in the midst of suffering, pain, and/or questioning is hard. I have experienced anxiety on my way to funerals before because of it. I have experienced it just in knowing I will run in to that someone at church or work. I fear I'll say the wrong thing and send them into a fit of (hopefully private) rage or tears. Maybe I fear this so much because I have been the one sent into a fit of rage or tears. Anyone else? Just me?
There are many blogs out there that give advice about what NOT to say to your infertile friend or a friend that has lost a little one. Today, I want to do my best to offer some ideas of what you CAN do! As a teacher, I have had to learn about how to discipline without saying "Don't do _____" and instead say, "How about you _____ instead of _______". It's not easy, and I fail quite often! It is so much easier to just say "Don't!" and "Stop it!" It takes much less thought on my part, but in the end doesn't offer much resolve for the other person.
So, without regard for how much this will sound like a "Top 10 Ways You Can _______", I give you 8 Things You Can Do for Your Friend Struggling through Infertility/Pregnancy Loss.
1. Cry with them.
This may sound awkward. Sitting next to someone, and not really speaking, but just crying with them. Somehow, it is comforting though. It tells them that they're not alone in their pain. We were blessed by so many at our church that entered into the pain with us! They didn't have to! They had the choice...we didn't, but they did, and they jumped in the boat with us. It's a beautiful thing really. Romans 12:15 says, "Rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those who weep." A dear friend even just texted me after our most recent miscarriage to say she'd just been crying on and off throughout the day. She didn't cry in the same room as me, but it still meant a lot.
Sometimes just nodding your head and showing with your eyes that you're listening is the best. I know I wasn't always ready to talk about things, but when I was - I wanted someone to listen. There are times I know it makes people uncomfortable when I talk openly about our losses, but I so appreciate the ones that stick with me and listen. I needed someone to hear about our babies that we never held. I wanted someone to hear about them just like someone listens about any other baby.
3. Be sensitive.
I realize this is a tricky one. Steer clear of the obvious things: complaining about your pregnancy symptoms, your own children, your lack of sleep. While I realize those things are very real struggles, it's a better idea to discuss those things with others who have or are currently experiencing those same parental struggles. Like I said earlier, there are a TON of blogs explaining things you probably shouldn't say. Search for them on Pinterest...you'll find 'em. But when it doesn't seem obvious, honesty and vulnerability are appreciated. If you don't know what to say or discuss, admit it! Really. If you don't understand your friend, ask them to help you.
4. Include them.
Invite them to the baby showers, but consider sending an extra message. I had a friend one time contact me the day she knew I'd receive her baby shower invitation in the mail. She said she understood that those were not fun things for me to receive in the mail, and that she completely understood if I couldn't make it. (She also struggled with conceiving, so she really did understand.) I really was thankful she chose to invite me. I actually considered going, but turns out we had something planned that day already. I sent my gift gladly though. And this doesn't just mean include your friend in the baby showers. Just include them and try not to walk on egg shells around them. I will use the word "don't" here. Don't avoid your friend when you discover your pregnancy. Your friend will already feel like an alien due to the fact that she cannot seem to do one of the things women were designed to do, so please work to not alienate her even more.
5. Rejoice in your own pregnancy.
This kind of goes with #4. I hated feeling like my dearest friend felt like they couldn't rejoice in their pregnancy because of ME. Just keep in mind that the rejoicing you do with your own family or friends that do not struggle with infertility/loss will be different in how you may rejoice with your certain friend who does struggle. Consider telling your friend privately, before announcing to a big group. This will give her time to process and experience emotions she might be embarrassed to express in public. If you can't imagine telling her privately face to face, consider letting her husband know. He can let her in on the news, and this will give her time to process. Hopefully after some time to process your wonderful news, that friend will then call you and be ready to rejoice! I will reference again Romans 12:15... "Rejoice with those that rejoice, and weep with those who weep." As one that struggles with infertility/loss, I am called to obey this verse just as much. A life is a miracle - it should be rejoiced in! I am called to rejoice with my pregnant friends. I am fully aware of the fragility of life - we must rejoice in every life! Just refer back to #3 when you rejoice with your friend dealing with infertility/loss.
6. Keep pursuing them.
If you are pregnant or have children, there may will come a time your friend make seem to be avoiding you. This can be hurtful. I'm sure. Please try to extend grace here. Know that it's not so much they're avoiding you as it is they're just trying to avoid pain. Keep calling, keep texting, keep pursuing them. Leave out the parts of how you may be hurt by their avoidance for a later time. I hope and pray your friend doesn't use her hurt to hurt you though. Have patience with your friend. Perhaps even give them the space they might need in that time. More times than not, that friend will be able to come back around.
7. Try to avoid fixing them.
We all have heard stories about how someone's infertility just suddenly ENDED with the blessing of life. There's the countless people who adopted, and then suddenly had children naturally as well. There's the many who simply changed their diet and were able to conceive naturally. There's story after story after story....you get it. Try to avoid sharing someone else's miracle story unless your friend asks. Keep in mind that many couples struggling with infertility/loss have tried many different medical procedures, endured all kinds of testing, and are doing everything they can to remedy the situation. Consider this ladies...when you've had a rough day and you're explaining it to your husband or mom/dad...the LAST thing you want is them trying to simplify and fix it. You just want them to listen and hug you. (See point #1 and #2)
8. Pray for them.
This is THE most important thing you can do. I saved the best for last. Hand your sweet friend over to the Giver of Life as much as you can. That is the safest place for them. Pray for them and with them when you can. There were/are so many days I cannot muster up the words to pray for our situation. I often ask my husband, "Would you please pray? I can only cry right now." He has been so gracious, patient, and strong to accept. Sometimes, I have even thought, "Wow...I'm glad there are so many people praying for us, because I just can't right now. I'm glad they're hopeful, because I'm not." (That's not right thinking and a totally different issue for a totally different blog post though.) All that to say, they need your prayers. Be their intercessors. Step into the gap for them with Jesus, because He's already there.
I want to leave you with one more piece of scripture.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.
I'll use the word don't one more time... DON'T discredit yourself! We all have our own struggles and hurts. Comfort your hurting friend "with the comfort with which [you yourself] are comforted by God".
by Hailee Davis on Saturday, March 5, 2016