It is very important to note that no two people suffer or react identically to similar situations. The following are only suggestions; be sure to consider each individual and his/her experience and apply what you deem to be most appropriate.

Keep in mind:

  1. Do not assume anything; not everyone who does not have a child or has a large gap between children is navigating infertility.
  2. If someone reaches out to share his/her story, the best thing one can do is listen.
  3. It is most helpful not to recommend a specific doctor, rather if you would like to, give a few options so that the couple/individual can do their own research and find the best fit.

Jewish Ritual Sensitivity:

  1. Rituals:
    1. When offering, an individual or couple, the opportunity to participate in a ritual that is thought to help one have children it is important to know who you are asking before doing so:
      • Some people appreciate such offers and run at the opportunity
      • Some people feel very hurt by such an offer and would prefer not to even be offered them
    2. If you are unsure or do not know the person well try to consult with a family member or close friend who would know so as to avoid unintentionally offending or hurting anyone.
  2. It is a beautiful custom to use child centred holidays as an opportunity to pray for those who have not yet been blessed with children or who are struggling to expand their families.
  3. Moving stroller hubs away from the front entrance of a synagogue to the back so that people can enter without crossing through an emotional minefield.

When hosting a meal or get-together, ensure that everyone is made to feel emotionally included:

  1. Be aware of the crowd.
  2. If there are individuals who are not married or do not have children, make sure that the conversation does not revolve around marriage and kids.
  3. Try to engage in conversations in which everyone can be an active participant.

It is important to engage friends or family members whom you suspect may be navigating infertility:

  1. A text message every so often just to say hello can go a long way in making someone feel that you care.
  2. Invite family members and/or friends to birthday parties, get-togethers and Shabbat or Yom Tov meals – if they are not up to joining, let them make the decision for themselves and do not make them feel guilty for opting out.

 When engaging family members or friends:

  1. The best thing that one can do for a friend or family member is to be a friend, listen when they speak, and offer a shoulder to cry on if need be.
  2. Unless requested, avoid sharing advice or tips on how to increase chances of conception.
  3. If a friend or family member does share his/her story with you, try not to bring it up every time you see him/her.
  4. Assuring people that everything will be okay is generally not comforting, as only God knows the outcome. Rather, assure your friend or family member that no matter what the outcome, you will be there for them in any way that he/she needs. Validate whatever feelings or reactions s/he might have, regardless of what you think about how they are handling the situation. Provide them the space to experience those feelings without feeling judged.

 For parents and grandparents of those navigating infertility:

  1. Be sensitive to your child/grandchild’s challenge.
  2. Asking them when they will give you a grandchild is hurtful and a reminder of their struggle.
  3. Do not push your children to share information about their fertility challenges and treatments that they are not comfortable sharing.
  4. For those navigating primary infertility – ensure that your children feel special in their own right and no less important to you even though they have not yet given you a grandchild.
  5. For some parents/grandparents getting support may enable them to be more present emotionally for their child/grandchild.

At times those struggling with infertility, be it primary, secondary, or circumstantial, can become emotionally overwhelmed and may need some distance. It may come across as a personal offence, but it is important to remember that it is not personal.