Its something I think we’re all guilty of and yet, when we know better we do better. Like before we battled infertility, we’d not think twice about asking somebody when they planned to start a family or why they didn’t have any children. Now, after my years of infertility, I’d never dream of asking a childless couple why they didn’t have kids, I simply know better, I’ve experienced those questions and felt their sting, now if I come across a childless couple I respectfully do not ask these questions and why? Because when we know better we do better.
I think the same thing applies with platitudes. I know its hard to offer comfort without offering up a platitude, but I am going to try my damnedest in future to only offer up an “I’m sorry” and not include a platitude. Platitudes don’t offer comfort. If anything, they can become a source of more hurt. My very wise friend, Elize, sent me this text the other day:
Its hard to offer comfort without platitudes. I know what its like but I realized that most people are just trying what they think is best, they love you and want to be there for you but feel utterly helpless!
She’s so right. But at the same time, I think we/I need to be more careful/conscious of how I offer comfort in future. I will never again say “I know how you feel”. How could I? How could any of us? We all experience this journey so differently, we all experience pain so differently. How could somebody who’s never had a miscarriage know what I’m feeling? How could somebody who’s never been pregnant know what it feels like to get the wonderful news only to have it be short lived and lost in a matter of days. How can somebody who’s never experienced repeated miscarriages possibly understand what it feels like?
The simple answer is – they can’t. Nobody can possibly know what its like to have walked a mile in my shoes, anymore than I can know what its like to walk a mile in theirs, nobody can know what its like to be into their 8th year of trying, have had countless timed cycles, 3 IUI cycles and 5 IVF cycles and still have suffered through 7 early losses. Nobody can know my personal pain anymore than I can know anyone’s elses pain. I don’t know what its like to experience a second or third trimester miscarriage, I don’t know the horror of a still birth, I don’t know what its like to have been trying for a few years and never to have experienced a positive pregnancy test.
All I know is my own personal pain. I’ve learnt that pain is pain, its all relative at the end of the day, it relates directly to our personal experiences and how we experience that pain will be in direct correlation to what we’re going through in our lives at that time. So nobody has the right to judge anybody elses pain or to believe that they are any more entitled to their pain than someone elses.
So all I can say to my infertility sisters is this? I sympathize with you pain. I don’t know exactly what you’re going through, but I can recognize your pain and be saddened by it.
Edited to state that this post is by no means a slap on the wrist or finger pointing exercise at anyone in blog land, but rather my thoughts after “words of wisdom” and comfort from people in my life who have tried to comfort me by offering me platitudes.