We all have that one friend who is struggling with infertility issues. It is a sensitive topic, and if your friend has confided in you, it means that they trust you. However, you should know what to say and do and what to avoid saying so that you do not hurt them further. Each person is different and deals with situations in their own way.
Here are some ways in which you can offer your support to show that you care:
- Let them open up to you - Let your friend decide how much information she wants to share with you. Don’t pry for information or be curious to find out more. But you can always let her know that you are there for her whenever she wants to talk about it.
- Research - Read up about infertility and the various treatments such as IVF, ICSI, and IUI. Having adequate knowledge about infertility will help you to empathize with your friend rather than sympathize. You will also be able to understand the problem better and offer practical solutions when asked. It is important to understand that one-third of infertility issues are related to women, one-third to men, and the other one-third due to unknown factors.
- Listen more, speak less - When your friend shares their problem with you, they are not always asking for a solution. Rather, they just want to be heard. Refrain from giving advice and solutions to their problem when not asked. Also, remember to avoid phrases like “Relax” or “At least you tried” if they had a miscarriage. Be optimistic, but saying things like “You are lucky to be without children” doesn’t really help them!
- Give space - Each person needs their own space. When it comes to your friend who is struggling with conceiving, give them space to accept what is happening in their life. Such issues can be emotionally, physically, and financially draining. Let them come to you for support when they feel ready. Allow them time to grieve after a miscarriage or come to terms with the fact that they may never have kids.
- Offer help in different ways - Sometimes, little things make the most difference. Ask if they need anything. You could offer to accompany them to their doctor’s appointment or babysit their older kids while they are attending their treatment sessions. Other ways to show your support in actions is as simple as exercising with them or cooking them a nice meal!
- Remember them on special days - Remembering them on Mother’s and Father’s Day, for instance, will make them feel special. Wishing them well on their birthdays and other special occasions will remind them of your thoughtfulness and love.
- Be careful how you share your own news - It may happen that you are pregnant or had a baby around the same time your friend is still struggling. Break the news to them in a gentle way and seek support for yourself from other friends at this point. At the same time, don’t, especially if they are a close friend, let them find out about this new addition to your family from other sources, like social media.
- Be optimistic yet realistic - Support your friend every step of the way. Whether they want to continue their treatment or stop it, or maybe even adopt a child, offer encouragement but don’t be unrealistic. Don’t lead them to believe false ideas and always be honest with them.
Sometimes in the process of trying to help, you may accidentally overstep the mark or say something out of line. It is best to apologize to your friend and ask them what they need and in what way you can continue your support!