If you search on the internet for things NOT to say to an infertile, you will find great suggestions. When you have friends or family that take those ideas and put them in to practice, you know they are dedicated and sincere. However, in any area of life when you constantly tell someone what not to do, and never give them suggestions of what they CAN do, then you run the chance of alienating yourself. I believe that for every 1 person who is judgmental and hateful on purpose, there are 3 more people who mean well and want to do the right thing to show support. They just don't know how. If you want to better yourself, and help others do the same, you have to begin with encouragement...offer help...be understanding...and be forgiving to others for their misunderstandings.
I've asked others in the infertile community to give ideas on what people CAN say (or do) to an infertile that will be supportive...you know, help them help you. I don't downplay the things not to say, because they are very important. Yet, I think it's time to offer suggestions, straight from the IF-world. I hope that if you are infertile, you can read and share with family and friends. I also hope that those who are here trying to figure out what to say to an infertile can find good, solid ideas. Ready??
11 Things You CAN Say or Do For An Infertile:
- You CAN say: "I'm so sorry this is happening to you. Life is so unfair."
- You CAN say: "I am here if you need to talk." This means actively listening, without judgment.
- You CAN say: "I'm sorry. This must be so hard."
- You CAN say: "It must be tough, what you are going through. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and I'm hoping for good things to happen for you."
- When we suffer a loss or when having a bad time, you CAN say: " I am sorry you are having a bad time and are going through this. Is there anything I can do to help? Anything you need." Because after miscarriage number 3, we really could use someone to help walk the dog or do a load of laundry.
- Don't predict the future (i.e. "It'll happen soon"). Instead, you CAN say: "I hope it happens for you soon."
- Try validating our suffering in some way, instead of trying to shrug it off. Something you CAN say: "I can't imagine how hard that must be." Sometimes just being validated makes you feel more understood and less alone.
- Listen without promising (i.e. "Oh don't worry, you'll get pregnant").
- Keep inviting us to family/social events. Even if we say no every time, keep the invites coming. Eventually we will be in the right place to attend. It makes us feel less isolated.
- Remember things we like such as purse shopping, sea salt chocolate, hiking, etc. and use those to help pick us up when we are having rough days. When depressed, it is hard to remember the things you love.
- If you offer to listen, truly mean it. Words are empty without actions.
- Let us know that while you may not understand the pain, you still love and support us. Be our friend.
I think the biggest thing to take away from this list is that those struggling with infertility need their friends and family to just BE.THERE. They don't need suggestions of how to successfully get pregnant. They need someone who offers to listen and support, even when they might not understand what it's like.
To those who submitted these suggestions, thank you! If anyone has more they would like to add, please send us an email (chancetohope dot gmail dot com).
Finally, to those who stumbled across this because you are looking for a way to help someone with infertility, THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart, you are a wonderful friend to have taken the time to do whatever it takes to be there for someone in need. Your family member or friend is truly blessed to have someone like you in their life. They may not always say it, especially in the thick of things (and/or on a bad day), but they do appreciate it.