Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Can I Do To Help?

I read this the other day in an email from Sarah's Laughter, something to share?

Practical Advice for Friends and Family

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. 
Philippians 4:13-14

If you are the one struggling with infertility, guess what!  Today’s Daily Double Portion is not for you!  Please print this copy out, hand it to the nearest friend or family member, turn your computer off and patiently wait until tomorrow for your next Daily Double Portion!

If you love someone who is carrying the heavy load of unplanned “un-pregnancy”,  you may find it difficult to know how to offer support for their struggle.  They definitely need your encouragement, but it is sometimes so difficult for friends and family to know how to offer the support.  As we struggle with infertility, our relationships with friends and family are undeniably touched.  Those who conceive easily may have difficulty truly understanding the struggle an infertile couple faces every single day.  In our effort to offer support for those who struggle, we submit these suggestions for ways that friends and family can offer their own support to those they love.  These are simple, practical ways to show your love and support.  If Sarah’s Laughter can help you in any way, please feel free to contact us at any time.

What to Say...

I’m so sorry.
I’m praying for you. (Only say this if you really will pray!)
How would you like me to pray for you? (Join in agreement with them in prayer.  Don’t assume you know what they’re praying for.  They may be praying for something that seems totally off the wall to you.  You don’t have to understand why certain things are important.  It may be important for your friend to not be invited to her cousin’s shower, or to be called into work on what should have been her due date.  When you validate their feelings by praying in agreement with them, it can be a beautifully healing thing.)
I’m here if you need to talk. (Then don’t be afraid of what they may say.  Don’t be offended if they don’t want to talk.  Being available to them as a sounding board is priceless.)

What NOT to say...

Relax, honey.  It will happen.  (This minimizes the hurt the couple is feeling.  Also, sometimes it doesn’t happen.)
You’re so lucky not to be tied down with kids.  You can go on vacation any time you want.
At were only a few weeks along, At have one child. At have time with just the two of you.  (A good rule of thumb is--if you start a sentence with “at least” it’s probably the wrong thing to say!)
So whose fault is it--yours or his?  (Infertility is not an issue of fault.  It is a medical condition that carries a heavy emotional and spiritual burden.  This is an intensely personal battle.  If they want--or need--to share personal, medical information with you, let them.  It’s really quite an honor to be trusted with such vulnerable information. If they don’t want to share, please don’t ask.)
You can always have another baby.  (Unfortunately, many who experience infertility also experience loss.  Even if they are blessed with a houseful of other children, they still grieve the baby they’ve lost.  They love  this  baby.  They want this baby.
I know how you feel.  (No, you don’t.  Even if you suffered with infertility or miscarriage, you cannot know exactly how this person feels.  You may have a good idea based on your own experience, but not the specifics of this situation.) 
Don’t cry.  It’ll be okay.  (Let them cry.  Let them cry with you or on you. Just let them cry.)

Be Sensitive...

Infertility and loss are excruciating experiences which tend to be extremely private.  If someone dares to trust in you and shares these experiences with you, take their hurt very seriously even if you cannot relate to their pain.  Maintain their confidence.  If someone else questions you about your friend’s childlessness, keep the information to yourself.  Even when others ask out of concern, remember the intimacy of this situation.  If and when your friend wants to share with others, she will--just as she shared with you. 
Don’t ask infertile women or mothers who have miscarried to pass out gifts on Mother’s Day, host baby showers, etc.  These are excruciating events for those who struggle.
Realize that the grief an infertile couple carries begins anew approximately every 28 days.
Don’t panic if the couple “emotionally vomits” on you.  Don’t cringe if they start talking about sperm counts or post-coital tests.  Your support can be life giving to someone who feels like they are going to collapse under the weight of an empty cradle.
Don’t be afraid of anger.  Hurting people tend to lash out.  If they are angry at their spouse, their doctor, their baby, their body or even at God, let them vent.
Give hurting couples an “out” on Mother’s Day/Father’s Day, on days when you have a baby dedication at church, for baby showers, etc.  Let them know about the dedication in advance if you are comfortable doing so, so that they can decide if they want to attend that Sunday.  These are hard events to attend.  Don’t criticize if they do not attend.  However, follow up with them if they miss more than just the difficult days or if they are pulling away too much.
Let them know you care.  However it works for you and those you care for, just let them know you care.

As Philippians 4:13-14 says, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength, but it is so good of you to share with your infertile friends/family in their trouble. Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you for caring for hurting people and making such a wonderful effort to ease the pain of unintentional childlessness.

(c) 2012 Sarah’s Laughter-Christian Support for Infertility & Child Loss

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