By Gila Muskin Block
There is something so special about receiving a gift. Especially if it is one you have wanted your entire life. You know that energy during the Holiday Oprah episode when everyone in the audience walks away with the most incredible gifts. The well known Oprah declaration ringing out “you get a gift, and you get a gift and you get a gift.”
Ever wonder what it would be like sitting in that audience and being the only one not to receive a gift? It may go something like this “You get a gift, and you get a gift, and you get a gift, oh sorry you don’t get one, but you get a gift and so on.” You may begin to wonder why me, what did I do not to deserve a gift?” Or “What could I do to get one, everyone else seems to be getting it so easily, what is wrong with me?”
Now imagine it is that special time of year again when we get to celebrate the incredible miracle of the oil that burned for eight days. Each family comes together to light their menorahs for the whole world to see. And as we sing and watch the beautiful candles burn, some of us will enjoy latkes, playing dreidel and even gift giving.
But what if you are a 1 in 8? Hanukkah becomes another holiday to remind you that once again the child you so desperately want and pray for will not be joining you to light candles, eat latkes, play dreidel or share gifts with yet again. This is infertility. It is the cycle of months that keep passing by with one failed cycle followed by another. Everyone around appears to be pregnant or pushing a stroller. And still there you are in a community of peers who are all having children waiting for the gift of a child.
As family, friends and community it may feel at times like there is nothing we can do for the 1 in 8 in our lives. Yet, there is a way to ease the loneliness and void left in the wake of infertility by just being a friend. We at Yesh Tikva share with you eight ways in which as individuals and as a community we can ensure that no one has to suffer alone:
#ShedTheLight on Infertility – 8 days and 8 ways:
1. Fertility Prayer: It is a beautiful custom to use child centered holidays as an opportunity to pray for those who have not yet been blessed with children or who are struggling to expand their families both individually and communally. www.yeshtikva.org/Fertility_Prayer
2. Listen: Sometimes Listening is all that’s needed. Friends are not looking to you to fix this problem they depend on you for support. Offer a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear.
3. Invite: Even when it may seem easier not to invite someone for fear that they may feel pressure to accept you invitation, it is important to allow each person the opportunity to accept or reject the invitation of their own accord. Continue to invite your friends who are struggling while giving them an easy way out if it does not work for them.
4. Ask: Sometimes it best to admit to not knowing what to do and ask: “I am not sure how to best support you but I care and want to be here for you so please tell me how I can best support you?”
5. Remember: A text message every so often just to say hello, thinking about you, or a heart emoji can go a long way in making someone feel that you care.
6. Engage: Invite your friend out to spend time together doing fun things that do not revolve around children.
7. Respect: Give people space to be private. Even if you know and they know you know, it does not mean they are ready to share all the details, give people the space not to share or to do so when they are ready.
8. Give a Voice: Think of ways to make communal and private space more welcoming to people facing infertility. Use your voice to spread sensitivity and raise awareness about the emotional impact of infertility on the 1 in 8.
This year help Yesh Tikva #ShedTheLight 8 days and 8 ways
Gila Muskin Block is the Executive Director and Co-Founder Yesh Tikva, Hebrew for “There is Hope.” Three years into her personal fertility journey she founded Yesh Tikva with the help of four incredible and dedicated women.