What to Say When: Chronic Illness part II

As we head into February we are doing one final What to Say When post before starting on a new series. We want to thank everyone who has opened up to us, helped us and encouraged us over the past few months of this series. It has been more helpful than we ever thought possible. 

To close up we reached out to others who are currently suffering from chronic illness like Megan Needham, (from two weeks ago). Chronic illness is defined as a health condition or disease that is persistent or long-lasting. Basically you are in pain for long amounts of time with no end in sight. 

It can be difficult to know how to help someone who is sick all the time. For the flu we can take her kids, bring soup, clean her house…but what about when she isn’t getting better? We hope the advice from our community below helps with these questions. 

What to say/do:

-Ask sincere questions. In many cases she wants to talk about what she is going through.

-Listen. Don’t start giving her suggestions before you know what she wants you to know.

-Be patient. Some days are better than others. Patience is a true way to show support.

-Keep inviting. She may say no 10/10 times but just being invited makes a difference. Knowing she isn’t forgotten and is missed goes a long way.

-Help her see the good in her life right now. She needs your positive attitude and feelings.

-Keep checking in. Some days are great and some are horrible. With chronic illness it is easy for others to forget the pain she is going through because it seems to never go away.

-If you have volunteered to help, be available. Sometimes doing nothing but holding her hand in silence is all she needs.

-If you are bringing a gift or meal assure her that she does not need to send you a thank you note. With so much on her mind sending a stack of thank you’s may be too much. Assure her it is okay to not be as polite as she normally would be.

-Just show up. Offer to do the grocery shopping, watch her kids or just say hello. This boosts spirits in ways nothing else can.

What NOT to say/do:

-Do not tell the her she is lucky. Perhaps her illness is making her loose weight, gain weight, look different. She does not see this as being lucky.

-Do not assume because she looks fine that she feels fine. With many chronic illnesses she may look or seem totally normal. She is probably putting on a happy face while hurting inside. Do not judge what you can’t feel or see.

-Do not make her feel guilty for not doing things she used to do. She is probably already feeling guilty and doesn’t need added pressure from you.


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