In today’s blog, I’m going to be sharing ways you can help support your friend during her fertility journey.
If your looking for a tick list, or a ‘to-do’ list for supporting your friend, then this isn’t a blog for you. This blog is a much more personal and encourages closeness, connection and intimacy between you and your friend, during this challenging time.
What Qualify’s me to give advice on this?
Over the past 10 years, I’ve supported friends, family and clients as they’ve gone through their journeys. And then, it became close to my heart, after I went through my own journey.
Why am I writing this?
Because, women have recently shared how uncertain and unsure they feel, to best support their friend. They worry that they’ll say or do the wrong thing, or somehow make things even worse for someone they love dearly. They want to help, and be there for their friend, they just don’t know how.
Many women are feeling their challenges even more because:
- Facebook is more alive then ever, with the family “Lockdown” photo’s.
- Cancellation of fertility treatment until further notice. This creating more distance between themselves and dreams of becoming a mum. In turn, can increase feeling out of control (even more then they already did) and, if age is an issue, create even greater pressures and worries.
- More time at home, with less to keep your friend busy and distracted. This can lead to suddenly being able to ‘feel’ some very unwanted feelings, which can feel very upsetting and overwhelming for your friend.
So if you’ve got a friend whose in this difficult position, please know there is much you can do to help, and its honestly simpler then you might think.
Firstly, if you are friends with someone whose struggling to conceive, I feel for you. It’s hard to watch someone you love suffer, isn’t it?! And there’s so much suffering and heart ache on this journey.You suspect it might be harder for her then you really know or understand, and in all honesty, your probably right.
Fertility journeys are brutal, and often, the people going through them will keep much of their torment inside, away from you. It’s not you, its that they don’t want to burden you, and in all honesty, they probably don’t even get a lot of what they’re experiencing themselves either. It’s hard to let others see you in that place, no matter how much they love you.
So if this is you, I hear you and feel for you.
I know how hard it is to watch someone you love suffer. To want so badly for them to feel happy and hopeful again. And to be able to gift them one thing, anything, that might help them get the baby they so longed for, or to at least help them feel better.
That ‘helpful’ advice, the story about the person who stopped trying only to fall pregnant, the “have you tried ……..?” “Have you thought about adopting?” Whilst well meaning, is often massively hurtful.
Infertility, whilst becoming more and more common, is still a very private and painful experience, with many people, not really opening up to how much pain and turmoil their in. The whole thing is complex, difficult, and can create strain even amongst the strongest of friendships. Infertility is cruel, and effects not only the people going through it, but you, their friends and family too.
So how do you best support your friend in their time of need?
- Make time to listen to your friend, grab a (virtual) cuppa together and ask her if she’d like to talk.
- Make space for her to talk or cry about what she’s going through. Don’t talk over her, let her get her story out. •
- Ask her if she’d like a hug (this might need to be virtual for the time being) •
Tell her your sorry she’s having to go through this. Don’t dress anything up – if something sucks, tell her this sounds like it sucks.
Please know you haven’t got to fix her ………
…..you can’t make her happy or take away her pain. You are not responsible for putting a smile on her face or giving her that one piece of advice that will help her become pregnant. But you can let her know, you’ve got her back.
Please know she may not want to talk all the time, but ask and check in with her. In a time when your friend feels so out of control, give her back a little influence and ask her what she needs.
Don’t assume what your friend needs, because every woman is different. Some will like to talk, others would rather not. And this is why asking what your friend needs from you is so important.
What can listening look and feel like?
I’m going to share with you some of my greatest moment of support, but they may look and feel different to each of you.
…. because we’re all wired in different ways, and all with different skills.
These examples I’m sharing, were true and right for me, but I encourage you to find your flow.
- Once the Doctors began discussing IVF, I became worried, scared and easily overwhelmed. On a walk with one of my best friends she asked me “How would you like me to talk about this with you? Do you want me to ask questions or wait for you to bring things up?”. I loved that she asked, as this was the first time I’d been asked my opinion around this.
- After our second round of IVF, I fell pregnant, only to miscarry. That afternoon, two of my bestie’s dropped everything and came over for a cuppa. Whilst I was making it, i began to cry, and they both stood and hugged me. Saying they were so sorry, so sorry i was going through this. And they cried with me, for me, and yet let me cry. I will never forget that moment, its one of true sisterhood.
- On a Skype call to a good friend, I was in a dangerously low place as I’d just mis-carried. She simply said, I’m so sorry your hurting. I wish I could take your pain away, but we both know this is what you’ve got to go through yourself. And you will get through it, right now its shitty, so shitty and I’m here for you. I love you.
I have tears in my eyes, as I write this. These moments are now years old, but still so precious to me. I was gifted their love and support, and it’s something I am incredibly grateful for.
Notice how none came with advice, guidance or a story about someone who did this or saw that person? Whilst there might be a time and a place for that, honestly, your friend has probably thought of everything or can Google the rest.
What they can’t do is replace you, as their friend, as their go to and as someone to have these simple, yet deeply needed moments with. A cuppa, a hug, an I’m so sorry your having to go through this, would you like to talk about it? Is honestly, some of the best medicine you can ever offer your friend.
Remember, if your friend is sharing any part of her journey with you, its because she trusts you. This is an honour, treat it as such.
As I close up this blog, I will tell you this on behalf of your friend. She loves and appreciates any support you give her.
And whats more – she’ll appreciate you telling her about your life. Infertility is all consuming, so hearing about someone else’s life and problems is a welcome break from this. And whilst she may not always be there for you in the way she’d like to be, she’s doing her best.
If you have found this article helpful, please do share with anyone else you believe could find it useful, after all, sharing is caring!
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If your struggling with any of the issues mentioned in this blog, reach out, let’s have a chat over a virtual cuppa and see if I can support you on your fertility journey. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.