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Liz Strong, LMHC, is a Certified Cognitive Therapist in Winter Park, Fl. She founded Infertility Out Loud, a website dedicated to those dealing with infertility, after struggling through her own infertility journey. IOL is a space for people to share their experiences and find solace and support.
“Try rolling her over.”
This gem of advice was offered to my husband, by a near stranger, while we were trying to get pregnant. All this time, energy and money we’d put into trying to have a baby could easily be solved by changing sexual positions – how had we not thought of that? This was probably the most offensive (and comical) comment we heard. Still, there were others. They were all insensitive and invalidating.
Infertility sucks. It is an emotional, mental and physical rollercoaster. Thoughtless comments by others were so painful when we were in middle of it all.
Happily, I also heard a lot of kind and thoughtful words. These words gave me strength. They helped me feel less alone on the days it all felt insurmountable. When I wanted to give up.
As a result of my personal experiences, I’ve had many people ask me how to talk to those that are going through infertility. If you are reading this, chances are you are one of those people. You’ve worried about others and have wondered how to approach them.
Due to the complexity and uniqueness of each person’s struggle, I can’t offer a complete, “Here is exactly what to say and how to say it.”
But I can offer some helpful tips that will likely apply.
Let’s begin with what not to say or do. The following statements are invalidating, insensitive and often not based in knowledge (but have been said to me and others):
And now for some suggestions on what can be helpful to say and to do:
Again, these are just suggestions. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to showing someone you care. Because that it exactly what you are doing. It can be as simple as: 1. ask them how they are; 2. allow them to retreat if need be, or to vent and get it all out; 3. validate his or her feelings. This formula can be applied to pretty much any situation where someone you love is going through a hard time.
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