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This article contains excerpts from:
I Never Know
What to Say or Do!
-Learning How to Encourage and Help
Someone with a Chronic Condition-
Copyright © 2004
The Invisible Disabilities Advocate
you ever wanted to encourage someone with a chronic illness, but it seems like
you never know what to say? Moreover, when you finally think of something you
just know will make them smile, do they snap back at you with
Well, you are not alone. Because we truly want to help our friend or family
member with a chronic condition, we often try to think of just the right words
we can say to make all of the pain vanish from their life. If we can just
“fix it” then we will not have to see them suffer anymore. Unfortunately,
when we do try to come up with a quick answer, we often end up saying
something that seems to irritate or offend our loved one.
It is difficult to understand why they got upset, because to us what we had
to say should have been helpful. Nonetheless, if we could simply jump into the
life of our loved one, then we would see why our well-meaning comments
were not so well-received. Often, it is our intention to help them “see
the bright side” of their situation, so they can realize it is “not that
bad.” The problem is that we have then failed to acknowledge their
battle is very real and we have gone on to minimize its impact.
Sometimes we even try to point out another person who is “worse off” or
try to relate by saying, “Ya, I am tired too.” Often, we disregard their
limitations by attempting to talk them into doing what they know they cannot
or should not do. Because we forget how anguishing is it to be ill and
laid up, sometimes we even try to tell them “how lucky” they are to not have
to work or clean their house.
What’s more, we cannot resist acting as if solving the problem is so
simple when we exclaim, “why can’t you just take this or do that?”
Likewise, we want so badly for them to be feeling better, that we refuse
to hear the truth and do not allow them to be open and honest with us
about what they are going through.
Besides not knowing what to say, we often do not know what to do.
We often wish we could do something to help, but do not even know where to
start. Our own lives can be so overwhelming and busy that we could never fathom
having the time to run errands, do chores and help clean someone else’s home
what we fail to realize is that what might seem like an insignificant effort to
us, may save our loved one an entire day or even week’s worth of energy. For
example, we can pick up a few things at the store while we are already there and
take out the trash when we drop them off. We can drop them by some fresh
flowers, deliver a meal, bring over a video to share or pick up their dry
cleaning. None of these takes much of our time,
but it can make a world of difference to them!
all, we can never fully comprehend what it is like to have a chronic condition,
with all of the loss and pain it poses. Yet, we know we would not want to feel
this way ourselves, so surely we can see what courage our loved one
displays! We can even try to remember what it is like to have to put our lives
on hold for even just a few days and tell our loved ones how amazed we are at
their strength and perseverance!
with chronic illness/pain would never choose to willingly give up
activities they used to enjoy! In fact, they would do just about anything
to get their lives back! Therefore, we can rest assured, knowing they will keep fighting,
researching and pursuing ways to regain their lives or at least
prevent further progression of the disease.
Yes, acknowledging what is happening to a loved one means having to deal with all of its pain, mourning and changes, but do not sell yourself short! After all, if they are forced to live with it, we can certainly choose to live next to it!
Copyright © 2004 The Invisible Disabilities Advocate
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"The devil comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it in full" (John 10:10).
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