6 Ways to Help a Friend Struggling with Childlessness
From black maternal mortality to fertility issues, black legacy in America is complicated. Maybe you have a friend that is struggling to conceive or suffering from pregnancy loss. It may be hard to find the right words to say, so here are some suggestions to help your friend struggling with childlessness.
“One must talk little, and listen much.” – African Proverb.
When a friend is going through a tough time, it is easy to hit them with the super-positivity-it-will-all-be-okay sermon. Other times, we add anecdotes from our own lives and spent more time talking than listening. In these circumstances, listen and validate your friend’s emotions. Even if there are awkward pauses, avoid trying to fill that space. Let your friend process the experience.
5. Provide Support
Struggling with childlessness can leave a friend in a disarray of emotions. Your friend may neglect simple chores because he or she feels overwhelmed. You can help your friend by bringing food, offering to clean the house, going grocery shopping, or planning their schedule. Helping your friend to complete basic administrative-ish tasks can lighten the load and prevent them from becoming overwhelmed in the future.
4. Encourage Your Friend to See a Therapist
This seems like the most obvious piece of advice, but it is very necessary. The process of trying to conceive can leave a friend feeling inadequate, depleted, and depressed. It’s always a good idea to encourage your friend to see a licensed medical professional. The emotions associated with disappointment in this area can trigger trauma. Therapy can provide your friend with tools to work through his or her experiences.
3. Attend Doctor’s Appointments
Navigating the doctor’s office looks different in a post-pandemic world. It’s not always long sitting in a waiting room; sometimes patients are required to attend appointments alone. One way to support a friend is to wait in the car while they see a physician. While on the way to the appointment, hold your friend’s hand, offer encouraging words of support, or reminisce on a fun memory. Try to take the edge off of the experience.
2. Document the Experience
Pregnancy loss can be devastating. One way to support a friend is to memorialize the experience. Affirm to your friend that they are parents and that the experience was real. Memorialize the experience by encouraging them to have a homegoing service/funeral, make a scrapbook, or write a letter to the child.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14.Whether your friend wants you to be involved or does not want to hear from you at all, you can always pray. You can always ask God to give him or her comfort, strength, and hope.
This article is dedicated to Pascale, who allowed me to love her in my own way during her season of childlessness. Thank you God for the gift of friendship, and for showing me that I still had a purpose.