Be An Ally
They are your child. Your sibling. A neighbor. Your friend. Your work colleague. The person you sit next to in synagogue.
They feel alone and isolated. They need a warm embrace, a friendly smile, a confidante, but they don’t feel comfortable approaching anyone. They’re worried people won’t understand or friends will be dismissive of their concerns. In a community where kids are central to traditions and continuity, many of those facing infertility suffer in silence.
But it’s not just them. You want to be present, to hold space for them. You’re ready to at least listen. But you’re not sure what to say or how to ease their stresses. You’re worried about saying the wrong thing.
The first thing to remember is that no two people suffer or react identically to similar situations. Stress, uncertainty and anxiety affect people in different ways.
At times, those struggling with infertility — be it primary, secondary or circumstantial — can become emotionally overwhelmed and may need some distance. It may come across as a personal offense but it is important to remember that it is not personal.
The following are suggestions. Be sure to consider each person as an individual and apply what you deem most appropriate. The below also links you to specific topics related to supporting others.
Sensitivity Suggestions – Keep in mind
- Do not assume anything. Not everyone who does not have a child or has a large gap between children is navigating infertility.
- If someone reaches out to share her/his story, the best thing one can do is listen.
- It is best not to recommend a specific doctor. Rather, if you’d like to, give a few options so that couple/individual can do their own research and find the best fit for them.
When engaging family members or friends
- The best thing one can do is be a friend, listen when they speak and offer a shoulder to cry on.
- Unless requested, avoid sharing advice or tips on how to increase chances of conception.
- If a family member or friend does share their story with you, try not to bring it up every time you see them.
- Assuring people that everything will be okay is generally not comforting. Rather, assure them that no matter what the outcome, you will be there for them in any way that she/he needs. Validate whatever feelings or reactions they might have, regardless of how you think they’re handling the situation. Provide them the space to experience those feelings without feeling judged.
For more information about how you can be an ally to those struggling with infertility, please click here and use the resources we have provided.