I was reading a post on a blog that I frequent about insensitive remarks people make when someone is going through a hard trial in their life. This particular blogger (this site is mult-bloggered…is that a word?) was talking about her experience going through infertility and some of the ridiculously insensitive things people say.

I was thinking about this discussion a lot. I think as an adoption caseworker who works with almost exclusively infertile couples wanting to adopt, that I’m more sensitive than the average person. But even I realize, as an overly-fertile person, that I can never fully understand what infertility is like, and no matter how sympathetic I am, I can never be truly empathetic. I probably have said a few things that were insensitive out of ignorance. Now, I think it’s pretty smart just to keep your trap shut having to do with all matters of reproduction. And if someone confides in you that they’re experiencing infertility, the best thing to do is say, “I’m sorry. I wish there was something I could do to make it better.”
Then I realized, that when I was going through my own trial (still going through it seems some days) of my mother dying from cancer or having just died, that what I appreciated most was someone just acknowledging what was happening to me and my family. The people who didn’t say anything at all were the ones who hurt me the most. Even just a simple, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say,” meant more to me than not saying anything. So, I think it’s good to acknowledge one another’s hurts, pain, disappointments, and trials. Maybe it’s the offering of advice that annoys us. Like the, “you should tried Chlomid” when it comes to fertility, and “your mother should take more vitamins” when it comes to cancer.
And while we’re on the subject of infertility and loss…why is it that when you’re single everyone asks when you’re going to get married. And then when you’re married, everyone asks when you’re going to have a baby? And then, with me, even after having had a child they still ask you when you’re going to have your next one. And now that I have three, I’ve still had people ask me when I’m going to have #4 and then, on the other hand, if I express that we might have more, I get the, you’re going to have another child?! What’s next….after my child bearing years are people going to start asking me when I’m going to go through menapause, and then after that, when am I going to die? What happened to, “read any good books lately?”

4 thoughts on “Insensitivies

  1. Oh man, you kill me. Its true. People can be insensitive. I think the emotion or niceness gets lost in translation on the internet. Its better to be with a person face to face when you say, I'm sorry. And yes, people are weird and need to mind their own business. Its very hard for me to relate to people who have gone through these unfathomable hardships. I feel like a total ass even attempting to understand or pretend like I even know what their going through. So I never know what to say. But I'm going to take your advice and at least say something from now on.

  2. I totally agree! People don't realize the pain such questions can cause! When am I going to get married, when Mr Right asks me, but first I have to find and date him! I would love to answer, tomorrow! I think I understand how an infertile couple feels, because I WANT to be a mother. Yes, according to Society, I can do that whenever. But I will not lose myself and my belief that a child has a right to be born into a loving family with both a mom and dad. I know things happen to make that not always happen, but I will not CHOOSE those paths. To each their own, but I have to face myself in the mirror in the morning! Wouldn't it be nice if life happened just it should, but then what would we learn!Here's to trials!!!!!! We all just need to learn to feel out each others situations so we can support each other and help each other to the very best of our abilities. On the flip side, maybe we should be better at letting people know when they say something insensitive, lovingly of course like we would with a child! My friends daughter commented that she couldn't believe that I was older then her mom and still single, how crazy (she said). So I gently explained that such comments were hurtful, because I WANT, very much, to be married and to be raising a family. and that I know she didn't mean to hurt my feelings, but things that remind me that I have yet to accomplish the most important goals I set for myself, it hurts. I worded it a bit more suitably, but she understood. People don't know how we feel and therefore may not realize they are being insensitive. Some are just jerks like that, but it takes all kinds to make the world go round!I admire you for helping those who can be helped to get their hearts desire! I have a friend in my ward down here (OK, she is the only one I really know, my fault) who is getting ready to go to Tahiti (I think that is the right country) to adopt their 3rd child! A little girl! It is nice to see how excited she is. Adoption is truly about LOVE!

  3. I think you are right Marisa that saying something, even if not quite right, is better than nothing at all. Unless your nothing at all involves hugs and tears. The important thing is communicating, verbally or physically, that you care about the other person's pain – that you care about them.I've come to realize that some people who don't say anything are in shock or are afraid of saying something wrong. When I feel like that I try to at least make eye contact and communicate some sort of shared sorrow that way.

  4. But, as someone who often speaks before thinking, I wonder if it's better to hear something wrong or nothing at all? With me, sometimes that is your choice. Saying something wrong at least implies someone is thinking of you. I once found an article about a new infertility treatment that I thought sounded fascinating, and I offered the article to my friend who was having trouble getting/staying pregnant. The second I gave it to her I realized it was the wrong thing to do. But the intent behind the gesture was truly one of pure love. I was thinking of her and wanted to offer her help and hope. I felt terrible, and I apologized, but I think there was a strain on the relationship from that day forth. So now I tend to keep my thoughts to myself. I guess I've decided that if I can't say the right thing (and I obviously sometimes can't,) I'm better off saying nothing at all. But it sounds like you may feel differently. A true dilemma.

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