Your friend could find your calm, supportive presence comforting.

How to Support a Friend's Failed IVF

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

In vitro fertilization is a complex and expensive procedure for women or couples who suffer from infertility. About 70 percent of IVF cycles fail, according to WebMD, but success rates vary depending on age and other factors. If your friend experiences a failed IVF, you can be a good friend by supporting her through the grief process and making sure she doesn’t go through it alone.

1. Discover Her Need

If you aren’t sure what your friend needs most from you, ask her, advises Joyce Vissell, co-founder of The Shared Heart Foundation, a spiritual and psychological healing organization. Vissell says your friend will know what she needs the most and can help you help her. She might ask you for simple things, such as having lunch somewhere you can talk or doing something distracting such as seeing a movie together. Be honest about what you can reasonably do, and then follow through.

2. Listen

Listening and holding your friend’s hand while she grieves could be the most comforting thing you can do. She might need to talk about what caused her to seek IVF, how it feels like to have fertility issues or the hopes and dreams she had that she would be sharing news of a pregnancy with family and friends by now. You don’t have to have solutions for why this happened. Vissell says that sometimes the comments others think are comforting fall short, so be content to listen and make sympathetic noises, pass the tissues and let her do what she needs to do to express her feelings.

3. Be There

A friend is there when you need them most, according to Danielle Leach, director of partnerships at Inspire, an organization that helps create online support communities. She affirms that loneliness during the grief process can be hard, so take your friend's calls when needs to talk or set parameters for when you can be there. Drop by with a casserole after the procedure fails so she doesn’t have to cook and then share a cup of coffee or a tea and talk. Drop her an email and let her know you are thinking about her, so you are there electronically when you can’t be there physically.

4. Empathize

If you have never suffered from infertility or pregnancy loss, you could have difficulty fully understanding her grief. Suggest that she seek support from those who have walked in her shoes. Help her find an online or in-person group for women or couples with fertility issues, and go with her for a visit or two. Engaging with the support group can help you understand her feelings better. A support group also will give her information she can use to decide her next step, such as changing to a clinic with a better success rate or talking to her doctor about success suggestions passed on by group members, according the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago.

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