I’ve had a friend ask how she can love a friend on this journey. So here are some thoughts on that (and this was not an easy one to write. I think I’ve edited it over and over and over again. I fear not being helpful or sounding like an ass but here it is anyway. I hope it’s helpful in some way.)
I have had people minister to my soul by just being there and saying nothing. I have had words aptly spoken that ministered to my soul and I have also felt stuck down and defeated by words numerous times as well. I’m sure that I’ve done the same to others without knowing it. I think I’m helping and I want to say something wise and I say the wrong thing.
These things may not be helpful for everyone because everyone is different but here are some things I think were helpful for me, encouraged me, helped me feel loved or things to avoid:
- Listen without judgment
- Don’t pretend my pain and infertility is not happening, but don’t feel the need to talk about it every time we’re together either.
- Don’t be weird about it. I honestly don’t know how to explain this. I just know what it feels like when someone acts strangely around me when it comes to this topic. Probably not helpful at all. Sorry.
- Don’t stop talking when I come into a room because you think I’m too fragile to handle the joy. That only makes me feel more isolated. I want others to have a family and experience the blessings children bring.
- If I don’t come to your baby shower don’t assume I don’t care. I’m truly happy for you it may just be too much to attend at that time.
- Don’t delay in telling me you’re pregnant or tell me in such a way that you expect me to fall apart. I want to rejoice with you even if it’s hard.
- Please don’t say “at least you know you can get pregnant.” It’s not helpful to know that. It may never happen again (and didn’t).
- Please don’t remind me how I should be thankful for the child(ren) I have. I already know that. It doesn’t take away from the pain that a dream I had for my family is not the way I thought it would be.
- Keep in mind that a woman struggling with infertility will be reminded EVERY month that her dream is not coming true. This may happen for years and that’s hard and takes a toll.
- Send a card telling me that you’re praying for me.
- Sometimes a hug is all I needed. No words at all are sometimes better.
I realize that everyone is different. These are just some things that I think are helpful to know. Try to put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel? What would be helpful to you?
We all will experience pain and the loss of a dream in our life. We may not understand someone’s pain or even agree with how they handle it but we can love them, extend grace and gently give Truth when they need it, or just hold their hand. I think that when someone is on a painful journey they just need to be loved gently and pointed toward Christ.
What is helpful for you when you’re experiencing a painful situation? Any helpful thoughts?
*photo courtesy of lonesome:cycler’s