How do you Comfort those who Need Comfort?

When someone you know (whether intimately or superficially) is struggling with infertility or miscarriage or stillbirth, how do you reach out to comfort them?

  • If you yourself have struggled with the debilitating cycle of month by month disappointment, how do you comfort someone who once again sees only one line on that pregnancy test?
  • If you yourself have lost a baby at any gestation, how do you comfort someone who is now thrown into those trenches of horrible grief and sorrow and confusion and pain?
  • How can we show Gospel Grace (if they are new to the Gospel, or if they are already intimately related to Jesus) to someone suffering in these ways?

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7

10 Replies to “How do you Comfort those who Need Comfort?”

  1. I think the most helpful thing is to let her know you haven’t forgotten her, that you care. And be willing to listen to all the crazy. 🙂 I love the passage you’ve posted here because I think God is so faithful to use the pains and struggles we’ve endured to comfort others. I would do the same thing with someone who knows Jesus and someone who doesn’t believe. I think the common human experience is very powerful. Sometimes we think that denying our pain will make it go away, but it doesn’t. Jesus identifies with us in that very human way as well and experienced the full range of human emotions. I would share how I have wrestled with God’s goodness and sovereignty in the midst of my own struggle with infertility and that I continue to wrestle with him. Nothing has challenged my faith more than infertility. Nothing has taught me more about compassion and loving others than infertility. And nothing has shaped and challenged and enriched my marriage more than infertility.

  2. I think the main thing you can do is just love them and accept them. Don’t get frustrated with them when they express their feelings. Sometimes an “I’m sorry” and a hug was plenty. The worst thing I was told was, “Well, maybe it’s not God’s plan for you to have a child.” I knew this could be true, yes. But hearing it from someone else’s mouth was absolutely horrible and devastated me. Also, comments that bothered me were, “Don’t worry. It will happen if you stop trying” or “Just plan a vacation or buy something expensive and it always happens then.”

    Another thing that bothered me was the comment, “Well, you can always adopt.” Yes, I could adopt. However, before I could come to terms with even the thought of adoption, the idea of me having a natural-born child would need to die. I wasn’t ready to let go of that idea… that dream… the desire to feel a baby in my womb. And even if I was ready for adoption, could I even afford it? Would my spouse be able to accept a child that wasn’t his? It’s not an easy decision like trying to decide what to cook for dinner.

    So I go back to my original comment. Just be a friend. Just be there to listen, and not be quick to offer advice (especially if you don’t have any personal experience with infertility). Just a quick, “How are you doing? I’ve been praying for you” is all we need sometimes. Just a hug or a card to say you’re thinking about me is sufficient. Above all, don’t give up on your friend. No matter what dark place I went to during the most trying times of my infertility, knowing I had friends that cared and were praying for me is what got me through it.

  3. Don’t criticize or make insensitive comments. Someone who has never experienced infertility will never understands the pain that comes with it. The Bible states that the “barren womb” is never satisfied and infertile women feel that truth with every fiber of their being. I wanted people to pray for me, hug me, and just be a good friend who would listen. Instead I got comments like “stop worrying about it and it will happen” or “you aren’t doing IT right” etc. I went through a time when about 5 women were pregnant in the church at the same time while I so desperately desired to be. I think all these women already had children so these were 2nd or 3rd for most. To constantly be reminded of my failure as a woman (that’s what it feels like) was difficult. I felt like I failed my husband as a wife, my parents/in laws because I couldn’t provide grandchildren, and myself as a woman. I felt rejected, abandoned, and insecure. If I hadn’t been in a relationship with Jesus, I would not have came through it. He was my rock through it all.

    I guess to answer the question, I would listen to them and encourage them to let it all out because I know how it is to bottle it up, then pray with them, and never ever criticize or give sexual advice. I would also share my story to encourage them.

  4. I would say nothing at all at first other than a simple message of if you want someone to talk to or cry with I’m here for you. The emotions of IF are so varied and alienating for so many people that sometimes simply knowing that you are not alone is what you need. It has been what has aided me when I have hit low points.
    We have the grace and peace that only God can provide by clinging to the promises of his plans for us are the right plans, but sometimes a sympathy from someone who knows what it is like to lose a dream is also very important in real life.

  5. Everyone else’s life “goes back to normal” very soon after a loss but that probably won’t be the case for the one going through the grieving process. Continue to remind them that you are thinking of them and their babies (weeks, months or even years after their loss). One of my worst fears was that my baby would be forgotten. I love it when my friends reach out and say they are thinking of her and me. Many times, God used their words to comfort me and remind me that I’m not alone. You have no idea how God will use you to bless your loved one! Try your best to remember due dates, loss dates, etc and give a small present or card on the anniversaries. The extended love and support that my friends and family gave me really showed the faithful love of my Heavenly Father.

  6. I think the best comfort that I receive when I get yet another negative test, is just having someone listen and be present with me. To be understanding if I don’t think I can go to another shower or face someone’s newborn on that particular day. There really isn’t anything they can say to make me feel better, but it is just good to have someone care enough to take it seriously and listen with compassion.
    After loss, I didn’t want my baby to be minimized. Ask them if they named their baby and what that name is. Give them enough space when you are together(don’t fill all the silences with words) to let them express what they are feeling. Write down important dates, like the woman’s would-have-been due date, and the anniversary of her babies death, so that you can send her a card or give her a gift at that time. Continue to talk to her about her loss months and years later. They certainly remember and they wish others would too! I would do that for a fellow sister in Christ, as well as someone who has never heard the gospel.
    Whether I’m talking to a believer or not, I will tell them how my faith was stretched, battered, and ultimately strengthened through my loss and infertility. I feel like my testimony about that is one of the strongest witnesses for Christ that I have, because it is the absolute truth and I couldn’t have(and can’t) survived without Him. Tell them you are praying for them, and actually do it. Don’t offer fertility advice!

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