See Part One here.
See Part Two here.
Question three of my fertility compassion survey asks, "What could have been a better way for the question to be asked?"
I had two strong responses to this question: 'Mind your own business,' and 'with love.'
Over a third of my responses came from the place of just don't ask questions or make statements about family planning.
It feels rude. It is super personal. It is really no one's business. And, especially don't bring it up until we bring it up.
However, I am not sure this is possible. We are naturally curious people. We are especially curious about people we love and care about. So, we ask questions. We ask what we think are these innocent and simple questions that are packed with so much emotion that we actually do the exact opposite of the intention; we disconnect rather than connect.
Sure, I know some of the questions and statements covered in part one are out of people being nosey and maybe even judgmental. But, I think, for the most part these questions and statements come from a place of love and curiosity.
Ask with Compassion
The other two-thirds of my responses asked for more compassion, empathy, kindness and tolerance.
Simply, more love.
Ask with kindness, empathy and compassion;
I am so sorry for your loss.
I wish I could help. It must be so hard. You will be a great mother.
I can't imagine, but I am sure this must be so difficult.
That sucks, you would be awesome parents.
I am sorry this is so hard.
Did you always want three kids?
Stop assuming. Practice tolerance.
Not all of our paths are the same.
Adoption is not the answer for us all.
Please don't make light of it.
Sometimes, just listening and being quiet helps.
The Script of Words
I am not sure it is fair to ask people to not ask about our family planning and it is simply unrealistic. So, as part of the fertility compassion and ever upward movement, I think we need to simply ask for what we need and want. Often times, I work with clients on giving their loved ones the script. Sometimes, what we are going through is really difficult for our loved ones to understand, to get, so they keep quiet or they ask these insensitive questions, both of which make us feel very alone. Sometimes, we just need to give them the words. Sometimes offering our loved ones the script gives them the words to help, to hear, to listen; to truly see, know and love us.
In regards to fertility compassion; here is your script directly from the survey:
Do you plan to have children?
Do you mind sharing about your family?
Tell me about yourself.
What are your thoughts on ______________?
A simple, 'How are you?'
What makes you happy when it comes family?
Most of all, check your intention in the asking. Does this come from a place of love (empathy) or fear (sympathy)?
Because when it comes to family planning, fertility, infertility, miscarriage, infant loss and recovery, there really can't be too much love.
So, please, drown us in it and practice empathy and compassion.
Overall, my Fertility Compassion Survey left me with hope. I wanted to provide the space for our voices to say what leaves us feeling alone and more broken. And, to ask for what we want and need. But, most of all, I wanted to see and feel how to bridge the gap.
I wasn't at all surprised to see that love, compassion and empathy are the bridge. We don't need to have experienced the exact same loss, trauma and tragedy to understand the feelings that come with those losses, traumas, and tragedies.
Sometimes it all just feels really, really difficult and impossible.
And, sometimes this is just life.
Which means we all can get it.
We all can love. We all can help. We all can practice this empathy and compassion.
We all can move ever upward.