How to Be a Friend to Those Grieving or Waiting

Since sharing about our struggle with infertility publicly, I've had many conversations with so many of you who have either walked this road or experienced a similar journey with waiting, grief, or disappointment. When these conversations come up, typically we acknowledge how very lonely these seasons can be. I've been so grateful to have such an amazing support system (and even then, it can feel lonely!) but I've realized that is not the norm for most going through hard things. I learned from an event I hosted at our church for women going through what we are, it seems people are going through hard things alone, or their friends / family will tell them they are here for there, but then never actually show it. We have GOT to change this! We were created for community, to do life together with the people God has placed in our lives. It's time to show up for our people and love them well!


Up to this point in our lives, we've never been in a position to "need" anything from someone, other than when my husband's dad passed away when we first got engaged. My husband's family has a ton of close family-friends who cared for their family so well. We were still sort of new to our church, but even they sent us cards of encouragement and my few friends checked in on us. Other than that, we've had a wonderful marriage (of course we have hard days mixed in, too, let's be real!), we have been healthy, have had good jobs, we both really enjoy what we do, we feel loved by our families, etc. I have always naturally loved doing things for others and putting together celebrations (enneagram 2 here!), so I have been the one to set up meal trains for friends who have babies or are sick, thrown many showers, and the like. These things have never been a burden for me, I love doing them.

But then this season of infertility hit us and I didn't feel like myself. I couldn't keep throwing the baby showers and setting up the meal trains for friends. As much as I hate to admit this, it has been so hard for me to keep being that person in our grief. I am learning it is okay to take a step back and care for yourself (thanks to counseling!) 

One day a friend texted me and told me she was bringing over a meal to us that night. She didn't even know I had just gotten the dreaded sign that meant I wasn't pregnant again-- she just felt like she wanted to do something for us. I started crying when I read her message, because we've never had a meal brought to us before; let alone on a hard day. I technically didn't NEED a meal that night; McCann could have made dinner or we could have gotten take out, but the fact that a friend saw a way to serve us in our grief meant so much to us. 

Bringing people food-- real, tangible nourishment-- is a beautiful picture of and parallel to the nourishment that happens to our soul when a friend steps in to your pain with you. It says "I'm here with you, I care for you. I'm hoping with you when you can't even hope for yourself." It shows people that God sees them, when that might be a far-off feeling to them.

This really hit me and I want to remember it forever! I want to listen to the small voice that nudges me to bring someone a meal, write someone a note, or ask to babysit someone's kids on a random Thursday, because you never know what your kindness will do for their heart. 

Last November I had a surgery to check for endometriosis, which the doctor ended up finding and removing. One friend texted my other friends and set up meals for us for a whole week while I recovered. One of my best friends came over the night before my surgery with a sweet care package for me; complete with an electric massager (which, by the way, is a amazing!), a cozy sweater, some treats, and an encouraging note. Another friend sent flowers, another mailed a care package. I was just blown away by the kindness I was shown that week! One of my deepest fears about the surgery was that I wouldn't be taken care of (this might sound crazy, but this was the first surgery I've had, so I was very nervous, especially without having my mom nearby!) and the Lord completely took care of those fears. 

Through my people, God said "I've got you" over and over.

I feel so blessed that this has been my story. My hope is that everyone who's walking through something hard -- whether it be sickness, death, depression, having a hard time with the behavior of a child, a single parent, divorce or marriage issues, or infertility -- would have a support system ready and able to SHOW them their love.

I've shared these ideas on instagram before, but thought it's worth sharing here, too. Below are some things to avoid saying and helpful/kind things TO say and do for someone struggling. Most of these will be specific to infertility / miscarriage, but the sentiments can be applied to all kinds of hard seasons.

- Anything to the effect of "just relax, it'll happen when you least expect it!" or "stop stressing" is particularly difficult to hear. Pretty much any form of advice in this way, and especially medical advice,  is not helpful and not kind.

- Telling someone "it will happen, I know it!" sounds harmless enough, but for me this actually puts a lot of pressure on me AND it's simply not true. This truly may not happen for us. I know it feels good to tell someone this (especially when you don't know what to say), but for me, this is false hope and adds pressure. God is in full control and only He knows how He is going to build our family!

- "Let me know if you need anything" is never the right way to approach serving someone. Typically people will not just let you know when they need something. I would never text a friend and ask them to bring me dinner ;)

- Two very hard statements to hear are: "At least you know you can get pregnant" to those who have experienced miscarriages, and "at least you haven't lost any babies" to those who have infertility. Please, please do not say these!

- Being nosey and asking someone you don't know well about their medical issues or experiences could be difficult for the person struggling. I am okay sharing with close best friends friends, my mom and counselor, but not comfortable with most others (even family, and that's okay to have a boundary!) so try to avoid asking questions. Let the person struggling lead the conversation. You'll see how comfortable they are quickly. 

- Try to avoid the topic of conversation constantly being about the very thing your friend is struggling with. If you're in a group of friends and you notice that babies, pregnancy (especially complaining about it) and motherhood is the normal topic of conversation, try to switch it up so your friend doesn't feel left out!

- If you're pregnant and announcing publicly, don't expect a big, happy reaction from a friend who is going through miscarriage or infertility. It's not that they're not happy for you, but it is really hard news to digest and be expected to give a good, live reaction. Try to tell the person ahead of time privately, perhaps in a text (that's my preferred way).

+ the single most encouraging and sweet thing someone can tell me personally is "you are going to be an amazing mom one day!" You really can't go wrong with this :)

+ Sending an encouraging text or card with something like this will be so appreciated: "I want you to know I'm here for you and praying for you daily. You are so brave and I see so much ______ (fill in the blank!) in you. I'm so sorry you're going through this right now, but I'll continue to hope for you!" Let your friends know you're thinking of them often! I have multiple friends who just text me every so often with something like this. No questions, no need to respond. Just thoughtfulness!

+ ENTER IN and SHOW UP! This is my biggest piece of advice for those who are clearly in the inner circles of those who are struggling. Take a meal (don't ask if they want one, just tell them you'd like to bring a meal this week and ask which day works!), send a note, drop off a Starbucks or flowers, get your friend a piece of jewelry that symbolizes their journey and hope. Show up in tangible ways!!

+ If you're in a group of friends and you notice that babies, pregnancy (especially complaining about it) and motherhood is the normal topic of conversation, try to switch it up so your friend doesn't feel left out.

+  Remember important dates (like ultrasounds, testing, surgeries, etc.) and send a simple text letting them know you're praying for them that day. I have a friend who does this and it means everything to me; like she really cares so much that between her own busy schedule, she remembers me! (Again, this is for those who are in the inner circles of the person struggling. It would be hard to for someone struggling to receive this type of checking in from someone who they don't feel comfortable sharing with, so try to gauge this accurately.)

+ Tell your friend that you want to be here for them-- however much they want to share with you, you're there and ready to listen. 

+ If a friend has lost a loved one or a baby, say their name and remind your friend that you haven't forgotten them.


Over the years I've walked with many friends through difficult things. Everything from miscarriage, stillbirth, marriage strain and hardship. I know it can feel messy and awkward at times to enter into someone else's grief, but it's always worth it. And now I'm walking through our own hard thing and my friends are right along side me and I am so grateful. This is what friends are for; we go through different seasons at different times so we can be there for each other! We're never meant to walk alone. 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." 
~ 2 Corinthians 1:4

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