Education, Infertility, Miscarriage

Don’t minimize infertility or miscarriage

April 28, 2011

Maybe you know someone facing infertility, going through treatments or having a miscarriage and you would like to know how to support them.  I have been very lucky to have a wonderful support system and great family and friends throughout this life crisis.  However, we’re not all so lucky.

Myth: If I just act like nothing happened, that will make it better.  If I don’t bring it up, that will be the best thing.

Fact: No. Don’t minimize the problem.  If your friend has let you in on their problem, then they wanted you to know.  Pretending the problem doesn’t exist makes someone feel like it doesn’t matter.

The key is that your friend has already told you about it.  It’s not a taboo topic between you now.  You will be a great friend by following up with this person and asking him or her about it.  If they didn’t want to talk about it, they wouldn’t have told you in the first place. If you are still unsure, ask them how they want you to deal with it.

Tips for infertility or going through treatments:

  • Ask your friend how they are doing.  They may or may not want to talk about it, but either way, they will appreciate you asking and thinking of them.  Many times people going through infertility feel forgotten.
  • When you ask your friend how they are doing, don’t pry.  Nothing is worse than feeling like someone just wants “gossip” instead of truly supporting you.
  • When your friend opens up to you, you just have to listen.  They don’t want an answer or a solution from you. Don’t give unsolicited advice.  They just want to get their feelings out or update you on what’s going on.
  • Please do not share empty platitudes with your friend.  “Everything will be ok.”  “Third times the charm.”  “Maybe it wasn’t meant to be.”  “It was God’s plan.”
  • If you don’t know what to say, just listen.  If you want to say something, then something along the lines of “I can’t imagine the pain you’re going through.” or “Life is just unfair and I’m sorry this is happening to you.”  usually work best.

Tips for miscarriage, stillbirth & infant death:

  • You won’t make your friend sad by asking about their loss because they already are.  You will make them even more sad by pretending it never happened.
  • If a couple had a stillborn and named the baby, speak of the baby by name.  That baby was a person and had a name, so please use it.
  • If possible or appropriate, try to do little things either in remembrance or to cheer your friend up.  For miscarriages, you could send a card on the anniversary.  Nobody else will remember that day, but your friend will remember those dates forever.  Remembrance jewelry makes nice gifts.  For stillborn or infant deaths, there are all kinds of things you can do in remembrance.  Check out this page for ideas.

“The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of confusion or despair, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing…not curing…that is a friend indeed.”
-Henri Nouwen

I wrote this post because RESOLVE is sponsoring “Bust a Infertility Myth Blog Challenge” in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24 -30, 2011) and you can go here to learn more about that.  You can also check out RESOLVE’s Infertility 101 to find out more or read about other common infertility myths.

Questions?

I’m happy to answer questions.  Just leave a comment below or email me at whitney@whitneyanderick.com.  Also, feel free to follow along on my journey or for infertility, IVF and multiple loss coping information.  Click here to subscribe using RSS.

Other posts

Check out my other two posts for the Bust a Myth Challenge:

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  • I love this post. It’s so true. When I went through my miscarriages, I didn’t want a solution, or a quick fix, I just needed someone to be there for me (which I had, thankfully) The other thing I find people assume is that, after several months, we are ‘over it’. Sometimes I feel alone in my grief because my family doesn’t talk about it anymore, assuming it’s in the past and I don’t want it acknowledged. But they were my babies, and I don’t ever want them to be forgotten.

    Thanks for busting this myth 🙂

  • Jess

    “The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of confusion or despair, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing…not healing…not curing…that is a friend indeed.”
    -Henri Nouwen

    FANTASTIC quote. And great post, as usual, my friend.

  • Wonderful post!!! This should be a required reading for every infertile’s family/friends.

  • Great post and such a beautiful and true quote 🙂

  • I really enjoyed reading your post. I think it must be tough for fertiles to know what to say and for the most part they get it wrong by trying to make us feel better with what sound like comforting platitudes.

    Those who get it right are the ones who just listen and acknowledge that life can sometimes be so unfair – you outline this so well in your post.

    BTW I read your story and am so sorry to hear of all your losses. I really hope things become a little easier for you and your husband.

  • Great tips- I know it is so hard to deal with something like that, but communicating about it certainly does help.

  • This is a great post! So many good points and well written.

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  • I wish I could email this post to all my friends and family without making them feel guilty for having done all the wrong things – cause they have done ALL the wrong things. From the empty platitudes to trying to make me laugh about it (WTF?) to ignoring it altogether.

    I see you just did another IVF — My prayers are with you that your baby dreams come true this time.

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