I have a track record of not being able to stand by and watch someone suffer. While shadowing a nurse when I was in high school I nearly fainted watching a girl with a fractured pelvis get a bed bath because of the pain she was in. My first clinical day in nursing school I had to be hauled out of a room before I passed out watching the patient get an nasogastric tube inserted. I cannot tolerate people hurting.
Watching someone in the midst of infertility grief is hard for me. Part of me wants to run away and pretend that it does not exist, but I cannot. I know it exists; how terrible and lonely it is; and how few people understand the roller coaster. I know how many platitudes are offered by people who have never walked this journey.
I know I am not alone in this fight. I see there are others that need to be reached out to. I understand how instrumental it is to have support from someone who is intimately familiar with the infertility road. I know I have to push aside my aversion to watching people hurt and be present for them.
I remember one incident in particular. We have always been open about our struggles with infertility and I try to seek out women who are hurting and let them know that if they ever need someone to talk to I understand and am willing to listen. So, it was not a big surprise when we were out of town with a large group and a mutual friend found me and asked if I could go and talk with Abby. As much as I hate watching pain, I knew I needed to brace myself and be present for someone hurting.
Abby had just learned her infertility journey was going to take another turn for the worse.
No matter how many times I do this, the impact leaves me the same way. Speechless. I have no words to say that could possibly fix the grief. I wanted to wrap my body around hers and somehow shield her from the agony she was enduring. I wanted to pull her heart out, rip the pain away and return it to her whole. But, I couldn’t. In the midst of her raw grief, the only thing I could do was simply be there.
To say that there are no words is not one hundred percent accurate. There are words, just none to say in the moment because any one statement said when a heart is breaking can come across in an unintended manner.
Here is what I want to say:
YOU WILL GET THROUGH THIS – I know that right now you are filled with such darkness that the idea that there is a light at the end of this tunnel seems like a foreign language, not something tangible that you can look forward to. I have been where you are and know how encompassing the pain is. I can tell you that it will not always be this bad. I do not know how your journey will end, but you will eventually see that light. I also know that to say these words to you right now may give the illusion that I am invalidating what you are feeling. The pain you are feeling is one hundred percent legitimate. I just know after we have walked this journey for years that you will also get through this.
YOU WILL GROW FROM THIS PAIN – I know that when the pain is taking your breath away, you cannot see any good that might come out of it. And, honestly, I know that if I tell you these words in the midst of the storm you will feel like I am glossing over how hard this is. It is every bit as cruel and horrible as it seems. But, I also can look back and see the growth in my life from the moments where I felt the most crushed. Remember the soil has to be broken before seeds can be planted.
GOD IS STILL THERE AND HE LOVES YOU– I know that it feels like all of the pleading you have done to get this journey to end now seems to have made it no further than your lips. I know you cannot understand why God would allow something so incredibly painful in anyone’s life, especially yours. I remember stumbling across Hebrews 12:7-11 in the midst of one of our most painful moments.
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness.11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
In that instant, I understood that God was disciplining me, not because of a sin I had committed, but so that I would grow as a Christian. God loved me enough to allow me to endure hardship so that I could be rightfully called his daughter. I promise that God loves you just the same. In this hardship, he is seeking you out.
So, instead of offering you any words of “comfort”, I will simply sit beside you. You can scream and shout; beat your hands against the wall; or cry until you feel like there is not a tear left inside your body. I will not think you are crazy. I have been there. I get how much you are hurting. I might not be comfortable in watching your pain, but know that I will be there. In this fight please know you are not alone!
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