What to Do & What to Say: Suggestions for Friends and Family
Thank you for visiting Yesh Tikva and finding our “Top Tips: Talking with Friends and Family Living with Infertility”
Yesh Tikva helps couples navigate feelings, facts and outcomes after being diagnosed with infertility. We have developed tips and suggestions because couples and individuals dealing with infertility may experience sadness, have difficulty discussing the issue, and may withdraw from friends and family.
We have been on our own journeys, and it is important to note that no two people suffer or react identically. We developed the following suggestions because we know that sometimes friends and family are unsure what to do or say but recognize that there is a strong desire to love and help and heal those in pain.
We encourage you to consider each individual and his/her experience and apply what you deem to be most appropriate.
During the period of social distancing, keeping safely apart is most important for health. Keeping in touch may be more important than ever.
Great things to do:
- If your friend or family member has shared their infertility journey, assure them that no matter what the outcome, you will be there for them in any way they need. Validate whatever feelings or reactions he or she may be experiencing, regardless of what you think about how they are handling the situation. Embrace them with love and without judgement.
- Do not assume someone is or is not experiencing infertility. Even if a couple does not have a child or if there is a large gap between children, do not make assumptions (They may have experienced miscarriages or stillbirths or a myriad of other challenges; know that this is a highly charged area for assumptions).
- If either member of the couple reaches out to share their story, the best thing that one can do for a friend or family member is be a friend, listen when they speak, offer a shoulder to cry on, a warm embrace or any other gesture of love and support you both are comfortable with.
- The gift you offer is the gift of listening and being there.
- Be in touch with love, even if your friend or family member doesn’t respond – they may be processing emotions and new information. (more tips below)
- If you have had a personal infertility experience yourself, you may share that fact, but let your friend or family member guide the conversation and share less, listen more.
- When in groups, be sure everyone is actively engaged and be sensitive.
- Invite your friend or family member for an outing with you – a coffee, stroll or non-child-related shopping trip.
- Be understanding at times those struggling with infertility can become emotionally overwhelmed and may need some social and/or emotional distance. Do not take this as a personal affront, but as a coping mechanism.
- Don’t assure your friend or family member that everything will be okay. Don’t offer “at least” comments (“At least you have a husband who loves you.” “At least you’re healthy in every other way.”)
- If your friend or family member has shared their story, don’t bring it up every time you see them. Let them set the frequency, if at all.
- If you have experienced infertility, don’t constantly speak of your own experiences or projecting your own feelings; listen instead.
- Avoid sharing advice or tips on how to increase chances of conception, unless requested and let them guide the conversation.
- Refrain from putting forward a recommendation of a specific doctor, medical procedure or other therapy. Allow the person or couple to perform their own research and find the best fit for them.
- Let the person or couple share their story – don’t guess or ask or demand to know, even if you think you have the “right” (e.g., you wish to become a grandparent, aunt, etc.).