The fertility struggle is one that can feel lonely and incredibly frustrating. You are at the mercy of doctors and tests, you are another statistic, another diagnosed patient to add to the growing number of people facing infertility. Unlike cancer or other obvious diseases, you may look healthy outwardly, so people won’t know your journey unless you tell them. Did you know that one in six people struggle with fertility, so it’s likely you know someone whose fertility is compromised, whether or not they have shared that with you or not.
Fertility makes people uncomfortable; they avoid the conversation and don’t ask how things are going. Rather than turn a blind eye to a struggle many of us are facing, here are five ways you can help.
More often than not, your loved one just wants someone to listen. They don’t want bumper sticker mantras or unsolicited advice. What they need is someone to actively listen and offer a safe space for them to vent, cry, rage or discuss options with. Many people don’t understand the struggle if they aren’t going through it themselves, and tend to unknowingly say the wrong things. Just listen and hold space.
2. Offer Help.
Make a meal, offer to clean their house, or whatever else you think may be beneficial. The hard times are when this is most needed; after a failed treatment, a miscarriage, a test result, etc. If someone is going through this, they aren’t thinking about mundane tasks such as making dinner, they are processing and grieving. Take the ordinary off their shoulders, so they can focus on dealing with their grief and emotions.
3. Educate Yourself.
There are a number of fertility-themed blogs on the Internet and studies being conducted. Read the articles. Like the blog posts. Learn what it is like to be the person struggling. It will allow you to find more compassion, and it will also help you understand the medical diagnoses, jargon and overall situation better. As a result, you will become a much better and more empathetic friend, family member, colleague or employer.
4. Remember Important Dates.
Nothing says ‘I love you’ or ‘I support you’ more than remembering important dates such as miscarriage anniversaries and/or treatment dates. Fertility struggles are often wiped under the carpet and ignored, so acknowledging a treatment or asking about an appointment will make your loved one feel heard, understood and loved.
5. Support the Fertility Community.
Find your community’s support group and attend with your loved one, or better yet, attend by yourself. Compassion goes a long way in this journey. Seek out fertility organizations such as Fertility Matters Canada or more locally, The Family Fertility Fund of Saskatchewan to find events, fundraisers, information and more that will better help you support those who support your loved one.