Supporting Our Sisters Through Struggle

Take a moment to picture yourself in the following scenarios…

YAY! I’M PREGNANT! I want to shout it from the rooftops! I have to call my best friend and… oh, but should I? With all she’s been through with infertility, would it be wrong? Ugh, I don’t know what to do. Include her in my excitement or keep quiet to respect her struggle?

It is Mother’s Day. My best friend lost her mom last year. I am so heartbroken for her but I just can’t find the words to say. What could I possibly do to ease her pain?

Oh, how I ADORE Valentine’s Day, full of romance and lovely gestures. Though I can’t help but think of my neighbor whose husband is currently deployed. She has to be feeling rough. I wish I knew what to do to brighten her day.

Any of the above situations sound familiar? Have you ever felt absolutely helpless as a friend faces tough times? I have. I know many avoid the conversation altogether when times are hard. Let me say from experience, nothing hurts more than silence from a friend when you feel like your world is crumbling to pieces.

After thinking back to some of my darker days, and speaking with some courageous women in my life, I have gathered a “how-to” list, if you will, to support a struggling sister.

First, The Do’s

-Do check-in. Dropping frequent encouraging words like, “You are going to get through this!” or even a plain and simple, “I am so sorry this is happening, this sucks!” helps to avoid feelings of loneliness.

-Do ask questions instead of assuming. If your friend has been open with what is going on in her life previously, chances are she feels comfortable discussing the topic and will appreciate that you have validated her to do so. Friends discuss battles they are facing; infertility, depression, and grief should not be hushed topics to feel shamed for.

-Do share happy news in your life. She cares about you too, remember? She is your friend and is excited for you. She wants to be included in your life, not ostracized.

-Do respect her choice if she decides NOT to come to an event they may be triggering. Some events could be upsetting or hard to face, some examples include: a baby shower for a mother following loss, a couple’s date night for a friend missing her deployed husband, a gender reveal for a woman facing infertility. Respect her decision and allow her to do so without fear of judgment.

And now for the Do Nots…

-Do not pass blame. For instance, making recommendations to a friend facing infertility like, “You aren’t going to church, that’s why you haven’t conceived,” or “Are you sure y’all are having sex correctly?” (Seriously, my mouth dropped open!)

-Do not preach on timing. Saying phrases like, “It wasn’t meant to be” or “It’s not in God’s plan for you” may come from a good place, but do not provide much comfort. This begs the question, “But why not??” You can see how this line of thinking is frustrating.

-Do not dismiss. Comments like, “If you would just stop thinking about it, things would get better for you,” or “You have a lot to be thankful for! Why are you so focused on the negative?” are unsupportive and empty. No benefit comes from dismissing a person’s emotions.

Talk It Out

With so many women facing heart-wrenching battles day to day, the need for meaningful friendships and encouraging conversation is crucial. Our girlfriends deserve to feel validated in their emotions and to know they are loved, they are cared for, and their strength to persevere is admirable.

What have you found to be helpful when supporting a friend through the struggle? Or, what have friends done that helped you face hardship in your own life?


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