Chances are, you know someone who is struggling with infertility. Having family and friends who are supportive can make all the difference. Each person who goes through this will have different ways they will want this to look like.
Here are a few ideas that family and friends can consider when helping someone deal with this type of struggle.
Don't minimize what they are going through. Stating cliches, giving quick advice or saying things like "everything will work out" can feel like you are not taking the issue seriously.
Become informed. What a great way to use the internet. You can research and learn about what your love ones are going through and some common things that are hurtful and helpful.
Be patient with them. Their feelings of grief are real.
Listen and validate. It is normal to want to give advice. Try just listening and trying to understand first.
Be open to what their needs are and what boundaries they have.
Respect how they are dealing with it.
Accept different ways of coping.
Don’t assume they don't want to be invited to things. Invite them and let them make that call.
Respond to the need for dignity and respect.
It’s okay to make mistakes. Don’t be hard on yourself when you say the wrong thing. You can always apologize for not handling something like you wish you had.
Different people find different things helpful at different times. Don't be surprised when support tactics need to be adjusted.
See this support process as an ongoing thing. It is important in our relationships to continue to learn what our loved ones need and how to support and comfort each other.
What types of things have you found helpful in supporting those dealing with infertility?
Jennifer White, CSW has extensive experience in helping clients with faith transitions, sexuality concerns, anger management, substance use disorders, domestic violence, and self-esteem. She has also taught psychology and social work classes as adjunct faculty at Utah Valley University.