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Support When You Don't Understand

Empathy: The intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.

If you can't empathize with another person's pain — really knowing what they are going through — how should you offer support? For example, if you are pregnant and a friend has suffered a miscarriage, will writing a note help or offend them? Jay Bronte explores this question in her latest blog:

Can You Offer Support When You Don't Know How the Other Feels?

When I was in high school, I had a teacher whom I simply adored. I had heard through the typical town gossip that his daughter had been raped and murdered years earlier, but obviously this was something that was never discussed. One day, though, without him going into the details of the actual incident, he told me about his daughter's wake and how a well-intentioned family member said to him, “I can imagine how you must feel.” He told me that nothing made him angrier, as there was no way in hell they could ever know how he feels. The intensity in which my teacher relayed this story — and the lesson — has always stayed with me. Come to think of it, it’s almost haunted me. I’ve thought of it more often than you know.

When you connect with others in the infertility community, you hear so many different stories of what women have gone through: a chemical pregnancy, an ectopic pregnancy, a necessary termination, multiple miscarriages, a still birth, etc. I’ve always been a believer in the strength of women, but after hearing just a portion of what many of these women have suffered, I’m even more convinced that we are fierce warriors who endure more than most men ever could.

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