What to Say to a Woman Experiencing Infertility or a Miscarriage
Fertility struggles and miscarriage affect more women than we know. And yet, we find it hard to know how to support our friend, family member, or partner during this time. This quick video will help you understand what to say and what not to say to a woman who has shared this with you.
Know that this is a time to provide love, compassion, and support, rather than suggestions, anecdotes from your own life, or advice on how she can get through it. While given with the best of intentions, anecdotes or advice can have the opposite effect, and can instead make a woman feel even more alone, guilty, or shamed.
Certainly, if you have your own story to tell, this can be important in helping her understand she's not alone, or that there isn't something uniquely wrong with her -- however, those stories need to be offered carefully and only after making adequate space for the woman's own individual experience and feelings.
For more information, please reach out to me or post a question in the comments section on Facebook -- I'm happy to be of further help and support.
Watch the video and read on for my quick do's and dont's of providing support to a woman facing infertility or a pregnancy loss.
1. Don't immediately offer your own story or an anecdote: this has the effect of making her feel like she's not being listened to; or that she now has to respond to your story (in other words, now take care of you) instead of receiving the care that she needed to by sharing her own story with you. Hold off on your story, then offer it to her only after making enough space for adequately supporting her. While well intended, this can serve to create more distance if you jump right to the topic yourself or another person's story.
2. Don't offer advice: again, while well intended, advice has the effect of communicating the idea that you think you know more than she does. She's already struggling with shame, grief, guilt, and doubt. Advice can compound those feelings by sending the message that you believe she doesn't know best. Believe me, she's been thinking about and doing every last thing she can. This is a time to provide emotional safety, not advice.
1. Acknowledge her pain and experience:
"I am so sorry that you have to go through all of this/for your loss. I can only imagine what this might be like for you and I want to let you know I'm here for you in whatever way I can."
"What would be most helpful to you at this time?"
"What can I do to support you the most right now?"
"What do you need right now that I can provide to ou in any way?"
3. Admit there are no words:
When there feel like there are no words, you're probably right. Say that. "There are no words that I can even say to you right now. I want to let you know that you're in my heart/I'm thinking of you/I want to support you in any possible way I can."
4. Let her know she's loved: Send her a card; a small gift; a thoughtful text; an email; give her a hug.
Simply being in solidarity with her will let her know you're there for her now, that she can trust you with her pain, and that you will be there for her always.
Lauren L. Drago, MSEd, LMHC, LPC is the founder of Lauren Drago Therapy in Old Saybrook, CT and in greater CT, NY & PA. She specializes in working with smart, insightful and capable women to overcome stress, anxiety, loss of identity, self-limiting beliefs, perfectionism, marriage strain, and the pressure of "trying to do it all". Lauren has a passion for helping others to achieve the happy, fulfilling, productive, and meaningful life they deserve by changing how they experience and understand their world. She believes that every woman can and should live out her personal definition of her own best life. Follow Lauren on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Call (860) 339-6515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up your complimentary initial consultation.