by Kaye Hurta and Chris Adams
Even if you personally have not experienced infertility, a large number of women in your church and throughout your community are struggling with this issue. Some women may eventually become pregnant, some may adopt, and others may never have children in their home. No matter the situation, we need to come alongside these hurting women and be the hands and feet of Christ.
Fertile. Just saying the world conjures up images of lush, green, well-watered, productive landscapes. What images come to mind when you hear the word “infertile’? Infertility is a major life event. The inability to conceive can profoundly affect how a woman feels about herself, her husband, her friends, and, of course, God.
A woman struggling with infertility is experiencing a wide range of emotions, such as sadness, loneliness, fear, anger, disappointment, loss of control, shame, blame, jealousy, guilt, anxiety, and isolation. The most profound emotions she deals with are loss and depression.
Understanding the basics of the issue of infertility is straightforward. Understanding how to effectively care for the heart of a hurting woman is a bit more complex, but well worth the effort.
Things You Can Do
If you have permission to share a woman’s struggle with infertility with your ministry team, try the following suggestions for care:
If needed (for example, a death through miscarriage), arrange for meals to be brought to the family.
Write simple cards or emails that express care.
If they are comfortable with visits, then visit. No one wants to feel loss and isolation.
Call occasionally to check in, but always ask first, “Is this a good time to talk?”
Organize a prayer time with the couple if they want, praying with a small team in their home or someone else’s.
Remember and acknowledge the difficult days, such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day or the anniversary of the loss (if there is a miscarriage).
If your church offers Grief Support, offer to attend with her, if it helps.
Organize a small group for people struggling with infertility and allow them to connect and belong.
Unless you are a professional counselor, you will likely refer this woman to someone in the professional community. Create a network of resources and referrals for women in crises of all kinds. The very best we can do for women in our ministry is to link them with the best of both worlds – the support of the professional community along with the love and care of your pastoral response or women’s ministry team.