How to support someone going through infertility or pregnancy loss

Today is RUOK? Day, a day when we are reminded to check in with loved ones. Asking are you ok? seems simple enough, right? But when you know someone who is struggling with infertility or the immediate grief of pregnancy loss, it can often be difficult to know what to say or what to ask. You might not understand what they are going through, you may not be able to comprehend the immense sadness and overwhelming feeling of loss your loved one is going through.

You see, infertility and pregnancy loss is a grief you can’t see. When someone who is alive around you dies, people understand that loss, they can see it. But when you lose someone who has been growing inside of you and hasn’t been born yet, or when you want so desperately to have a baby and can’t and you are grieving that, well that grief is harder for others to comprehend.

It is a grief that you can’t see.

So sometimes loved ones stay silent. When you aren’t sure what to say, you may say nothing at all. And let me tell you, that silence is deafening.

So today I share some thoughts on ways you may be able to support someone going through the challenges of infertility or pregnancy loss. Because from experience, even the smallest of acknowledgements can mean the difference from staying in bed all day, to getting up (physically and mentally).

  1. Just let them know you are sorry for what is happening or has happened, and you are there for them.

  1. Even if you don’t understand or empathise, you can acknowledge. “I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I am here thinking of you.” goes a long way.

  1. Understand and be ok that they may not want to be surrounded by friends who are pregnant, they may not want to go to the gender reveal or baby shower. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean this person doesn’t love you or isn’t happy for you, it just means these are triggers and they need to look after their mental health and wellbeing.

  1. You don’t need to call if you don’t feel comfortable. As simple text message “thinking of you” is more than enough.

  1. Send positive, thoughtful quotes.

  1. Be patient. Understand they may be absent for a while, or not themselves. They may never be the person they were again.

  1. Sit and listen. Sometimes people aren’t looking for advice, they just need your presence and to be heard.

  1. Ask “what do you need?” And if they need something, deliver on it.

  1. Check in more than once.

  1. You can say “Do what you need to, to protect your heart”. Pretty powerful words right there.

Talking about infertility or pregnancy loss can feel uncomfortable, whether you have experienced it yourself or not. But even the most basic of checking in, the most basic ‘RUOK?” can be so powerful.