According to Northwestern Medicine, one out of eight couples has difficulty getting pregnant, and over seven million people receive treatment for infertility. If you have a friend or family member struggling with feelings that come with infertility, you may not know what to say. You may understand that they are experiencing grief yet be at a loss for words. Dr. Eve Feinberg of Northwestern Medicine sums up the best approach to your friend in advising you to “offer grace and space.” Here are six tips to keep in mind.

6 Ways to Support a Friend Struggling With Infertility

1. Validate Their Feelings

When your friend is ready to talk about their loss, let them know whatever they feel is okay. When someone wants to have a child and is consistently unsuccessful in conceiving, it is a terrible blow to their mental health. Their grief is often compounded by family members with large families or watching TV or movies with lots of smiling babies. As a friend, you can offer a listening ear and let them know you provide an opportunity for them to cry or to say whatever they need to say.

2. Be Careful With Your Responses

Some things you may think of are better off unsaid. Don’t minimize your friend’s pain by telling her that failing to conceive isn’t the worst health challenge she could face. She also doesn’t deserve to be told she is better off because her finances aren’t in the best shape for parenthood right now. This also isn’t the time to offer unsolicited advice (like, “I heard IVF is a good option”).

3. Check-In and Be a Friend

At this time, your friends need to know you care. Send them cards or texts occasionally to remind them you are available whenever they need you. If they are a person of faith, you can offer to light a candle or say a prayer. Your friend may not be ready to socialize yet, but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate you asking them to gatherings or out for a coffee.

4. Encourage Any Future Hopes

If your friend has come to the stage where she’s ready to hope for another child, it’s a good idea to listen to her plans and support them. She may be prepared to go through the process on her own again. However, she may instead be considering adoption as a way to have a child. After all, of the almost four million U.S. babies born annually, approximately 20,000 are involved in domestic adoptions as infants.

5. Do Research if You Need to Understand

If your friend underwent an IVF procedure, you may want to understand what that entailed. Do online research so you can empathize with her. With a better understanding, you will be better able to support her if she decides to undergo the process again. If she prefers to try using the surrogate process, you can let her know that the surrogate pregnancy process typically takes 12 to 13 months to complete.

6. Support Good Health Habits

When your friend is overwhelmed by grief, it won’t always be easy for them to choose healthy habits. Each year, approximately 45 million Americans go on a diet, but if you see your friend stop eating altogether, express your concern. The same principle applies to drinking alcohol; a drink or two is fine, but mention your fears if they overdo it. If you bring food for them, cook a balanced meal that they don’t have to make.

When you see that your friend is brokenhearted, it can be overwhelming for you. However, your sincere offer to be there for her may be what she needs most right now. Let her set the pace for what she wants to say and when. If and when she’s ready to try again, your caring sympathy can turn to joyous expectation for her.