How To Love Someone Going Through Infertility or Miscarriage
This is a topic close to home for me, as our story of having children has been long and peppered with losses. It’s not a journey I would hope for anyone, but I can honestly say that I am thankful, there is real joy, and I know God is near to us. There is grace and compassion for every loss, strength and courage for the waiting, and many rich lessons to learn.
We live in a you-want-it-you-get-it culture. This is one of the most difficult parts of waiting for something that seems like a given in life. It bucks up against every instinct we’ve learned - that if you want something bad enough, and you work hard enough to get it, and you are deserving, there’s no reason why you won’t get it!
Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. 15% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.
Let that sink in.
1 in 8 couples. 15% of pregnancies.
Chances are, you know someone who has experienced infertility and/or miscarriage. It can be difficult as a friend or family member to know how to love well, and how to help. There’s a friction with wanting to say the right things and help take away the pain, but not knowing how, or worrying it won’t be quite right. It might make you feel uncomfortable, or you might find yourself searching for a quick phrase to offer in consolation.
I want to tell you something. You are an important part of the healing journey for your friend, just as you are!
You don’t need the perfect things to say, and you don’t have to walk on eggshells.
Infertility and loss can feel extremely isolating and lonely. We’re dealing with wildly swinging emotions that feel outside of our control. We are walking through life doing all the normal things, while still carrying the truth that we are currently without inside. It is a constant push and pull, and it can often feel like we are hiding our true selves to get through the day.
What do lonely people need? Friends! That’s you!
I’m going to give you a few tangible tips to help you love someone going through infertility or loss.
Call, text, and plan times to hang out face-to-face. Pursue. If we don’t respond or seem flaky, that’s normal. We don’t want to ghost you, we’re just dealing with a lot emotionally, even if we don’t realize it. Extend a ton of grace and keep reaching out!
Hanging out with friends is so healing, especially when it doesn’t have to be super deep, or specifically about what we’re going through. If it comes up naturally in the context of what’s going on in each other’s lives, that feels a little more safe and welcoming, instead of like you’re in the hot seat, or that someone is just information-mongering. It doesn’t need to come up each hangout session.
Find little ways to celebrate them
Cards in the mail, surprise coffee gift cards, flowers, affirmations, and birthday parties are a great way to lift up your friend, especially when they can’t be celebrating a new little life on the way. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but just let your friend known that she is seen, loved, and valued!
Try not to act super careful or overly-sensitive
While we do appreciate thoughtful consideration, it doesn’t feel good to feel like there’s an elephant in the room, and that the elephant has to do with us. If you’ve got kids and they’re annoying you to tears, share that! If you are excited about your baby shower, or decorating your nursery, share that! WE GET IT, and we know that’s your season! More than anything, we want real connection, which is two-way!
Think about your recommendations, and when to share them
It comes from a place of caring, wanting to help, and wanting to see us out of this season ASAP. But please do be thoughtful about what tips and recommendations you share with your friend. We’ve likely been told about special fertility oils, supplements, acupuncture, miracle diets, and doctors. It can feel especially disappointing when we’ve tried those things, and they didn’t work.
This is also true about prayer. This is sensitive, because I love miracles and I love people giving faith prayers! If you’re not close with the person going through infertility or loss, or you haven’t seen them in a while, I would recommend offering a private prayer between you and God, and perhaps sharing your prayer via email or message. BUT - I DO know that sometimes the Holy Spirit gives a word or a prayer that’s meant for in-person, and I have received those at the right times! If you’re unsure, run it past a mutual friend or pastor first to get their insight before going in for the prayer : )
Be in their corner, sit on their bench
My friend Em recently shared with me what she’s been learning about sitting on what she calls The Mourner’s Bench. When your friend is going through sh*t, sit with them. Join them in their mourning, as opposed to trying to fix or make a plan of action. Our culture isn’t one that embraces mourning; we have an immediate fix for most anything that might make us uncomfortable or cause pain. Mourning is a natural process of life, and many other cultures have extensive processes to walking out a mourning season. Romans 12:15 says to rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn. What does that look like, practically? To me, it looks like sitting in the space - coming over and sitting with, and being okay with a story that hasn’t resolved yet. I have a dear friend who has shown me that in action. She will just come over and sit. If I’m cooking, she’ll join me. If I’m just sitting on the couch, she’ll do that too. She asks questions about life - what I’m reading, what trips I’ll be going on, or if I’ve written any songs lately. She creates space for me to come out with my emotions naturally, and she just holds them with me. No plans, no fixes, just holding. It has been one of the most healing things for me!
Believe with us! If we are praying for a miracle, we want to surround ourselves with people who will dare to have faith with us and for us, especially since we will have days that we won’t have faith for our own situation.
It’s not easy to watch someone you love suffer through a season of infertility or pregnancy loss, but you are such a valuable part of the story just by being there. I hope these are helpful tips as you give love, safety, space, and faith for your friend.
Are you in a season of waiting or loss? I’d love to hear from you - is there anything that spoke to you in this list? Is there anything you would add?
Here’s to becoming more flexible as we navigate the rockier terrains of this life, and having eyes to see the treasures there.