What to/Not to Say
Yesh Tikva helps couples navigate feelings, facts and outcomes after being diagnosed with infertility. We’ve developed the following suggestions because we know that sometimes friends and family are unsure what to do or what to say, but often feel a strong desire to love, 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.
Yesh Tikva offers best practices and tips meant to help you communicate with people facing infertility. Whether you’re reaching out to a friend, hosting guests in your home, wondering how to talk to your child/grandchild dealing with infertility or a communal leader looking to hold space for everyone in your community. We also encourage you to watch the video below and continue scrolling to our tips to help you know what to say and relate to the 1 in 8.
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.
Things to Refrain From
- 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.).