What Should I Say to Someone Struggling with Infertility this Holiday Season?

I understand infertility is awkward. It’s awkward because it’s hard to know what to say or how to respond to your loved one who is in this kind of pain, especially during the holiday season. So in order to help you out, can I offer four suggestions?

The first one is simple,but yet so hard to do. And why? Because as humans, when we see someone we love and care about in sorrow, we want to naturally help. But please do not try to help by giving them advice such as “just relax” or offer up the notion that they should “just adopt”. And if you could, would you please refrain from also telling them it will happen in God’s timing? Or that His plan is perfect? Because while it might be true, and your advice is incredibly awesome (whatever it may be), it generally hurts more than it helps. Instead, simply let them know you are praying for them. Or perhaps just give them a hug with a gentle whisper that says, “I am so sorry you are going through this.” Maybe even let them know that you also see how unfair this is for them and no matter how you slice it, this just sucks. Trust me, saying one of those three things will do more for them than any other story of hope or incredible nugget of advice you share.

Secondly, don’t avoid the topic. Instead, ask them how they are feeling and acknowledge the pain, as well as the heartache they are experiencing. Too often those struggling with infertility feel alone and isolated, especially at family events where everyone has a child but them. So if you could, please take the time to make them feel remembered and loved. And if you see her sitting alone, in the corner, with tears filling up her eyes because none of the children running around are hers, don’t hesitate to go over and give her hand a squeeze. The holidays are tough and she needs someone to remind her that she is tougher, and she will get through this.

Thirdly, give the couple grace. Allow them to grieve and be sad during this season. I know this is a time when we are all supposed to be filled with joy and happiness, but that’s not always the reality. Especially when the couple has exhausted every avenue possible to try to grow their family in hope that this year things would be different. But as it has turned out, it isn’t. And for some, it might even be worse as they have experienced at some point a miscarriage or pregnancy loss.

Which brings me to my last suggestion…

If your loved one has suffered such loss, whether this year or in the years past, acknowledge it. Acknowledge the child who is not sitting at the dinner table and the pain they feel as a result. Even go so far as to whisper the child’s name and tell them how you also miss them and wish they were here. It’s the little things you do that will matter the most.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read this article. It truly shows how much you care for the person who would love nothing more than to have you not even need to read this. And while I realize that we are all human and we will at some point unintentionally say or do something that will ultimately cause another person more pain by. But my prayer is that these four simple suggestions will help you navigate these rough waters and even deepen the relationships you have as you gather around the table to give thanks and celebrate in this holiday season.

For more on this topic, click here to read “25 of the Worst Expressions to Say to Your Infertile Friend”


I would love to get connected with you on a more personal level, so if you liked this post, pass it on. Then click here to find Waiting for Baby Bird on Facebook, or come follow me on Instagram @waitingforbabybird. I can’t wait to “meet” you!

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14 thoughts on “What Should I Say to Someone Struggling with Infertility this Holiday Season?

  1. So eloquent, Elisha. This is my miracle holiday season, after 5 years of really hard holiday seasons. But my heart still aches for my babies lost. It also aches for all of my friends still in the trenches waiting for their baby. Thank you so much for writing.

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  2. The reason people avoid the topic is because we are bombarded with these articles about what we shouldn’t say. We actually care. We want to say the right thing, but if we say the wrong thing, we’ll have these articles on our wall. So we choose to say nothing. We all have people say dopey things to us in our lives. Choose to bless and release instead of accosting us for actually trying.

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    • I don’t understand what you have against this article? Perhaps just reading it with an open mind that this article was meant to help, not hurt would be good? I understand what you are saying but in this particular post I gave suggestions on what to say that helps as opposed to saying nothing at all…my bad for trying to help those who want to help or say the right thing but do not know how…? Also, you are SOO right in that we all say things that hurt, therefore there is NOTHING wrong in writing these types of articles in order to help educate others so that they don’t unintentionally say the wrong things…especially when I get emails DAILY from friends and family members of those struggling who care and are looking for advice on what to say or not to say. To them, they appreciate articles such as these. It’s okay if you don’t….but to many, they appreciate the helpful suggestions.

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    • I hear you, Anonymous. I have read articles that basically say, “We have a problem here, but keep your mouth shut about it!” It’s intended to be helpful, but to the person it’s directed at, it can be a little frustrating. However, what Elisha has written isn’t just pointing out a problem, she’s giving you a solution to the problem. She’s literally telling you, “say this instead”. We all want to help one another in our struggles. Elisha has articulated what you can do or say to help your friend/loved one/acquaintance who is navigating the difficult path of infertility. A kind word and a little grace goes a long way. 🙂

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  3. Thank you for writing this! We should have a 2 month old son at the table with us this Thanksgiving. It’s hard no matter how much time passes. It’s a real struggle trying to be grateful this holiday season when so many pregnancies and newborn babies are all around me flourishing. Life goes on, but my life became a blur when our baby’s heartbeat stopped. I plan to do some sharing of your posts!

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  4. Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve officially become public about my issues (something that is an even BIGGER no-no in my cultural community, apparently) and I have no qualms about it. Blogs like yours and a (Canadian) web series called “How to Buy a Baby” have inspired me and made me more comfortable. Celebrities coming out (are we allowed to say “come out?”) about THEIR struggles aren’t the same – we need to see more “normal” people!!

    If you want to see my post: https://www.cynthiacmintz.com/infertility/

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  5. I couldn’t have expressed it better myself. All I want is a holiday miracle. If i hear some one say “it will happen when it’s meant to happen” again, I will scream! Thank you for writing this. 💕

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  6. Like most of the above comments (minus Anonymous), I want to say thank you for writing this. My journey towards pregnancy began four years ago, three of which involved unexplained infertility. I am now blessed with a baby boy, but everyday I miss my two lost little ones.
    All my love to you and your husband as you journey on this hard path. -M

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