A woman I know told me recently that she’s been going through fertility treatments and it’s not been going well. She didn’t ask for advice, but I felt I needed to say something encouraging. I mean, I’ve been there, I understand better than most what she’s going through and how she might be feeling. And I knew that she’d confided in me because she wanted to know she wasn’t alone.
But I didn’t know what to say to her.
Oh, I had a whole list of things I knew not to say, like: “You can always adopt,” or “If it’s meant to be it will happen,” so I wasn’t going near any of those. But I couldn’t come up with anything that sounded helpful.
I wanted to say something positive, to keep her spirits up and give her encouragement. I thought about, “Don’t give up hope,” or something similar. But I also know from experience that hope can turn negative when you keep clinging to it. Sometimes, “Don’t give up hope,” is the last thing you want to hear.
So, I considered, “Stay strong.” It’s general, but positive right? But who am I to tell her to keep a stiff upper lip, when I know the value of letting go of those feelings of frustration and just letting it all out.
In the end I told her that if she ever needed an ear, mine would be available. That was the best I could offer, and I hope it’s enough.
What would you have said? How do you strike a balance between what you know from experience and projecting your situation onto someone else? How do you help someone who’s dealing with infertility?