The Questionnaire My Friend Created When I Received My Diagnosis


This past September, I got a diagnosis that changed both my current life and the future life I believed I would have. The day I found out, I had a friend watching my daughter while I went to an out of town specialist with my husband. I came home to a spotless house, something I had not been able to accomplish on my own in weeks due to energy levels and pain, and a handwritten note on legal paper that brought me to tears with its sincerity and perfection. I have already experienced the patently unhelpful “let us know what we can do” sentiments, as well as the occasionally harmful and usually annoying diet recommendations and religious platitudes, but with one page of writing, this friend was able to fully encompass everything she’d need to know in order to effectively help me through this season.

I am relatively new to the chronic illness community, and still haven’t publically “come out” with my diagnosis, but most people who know me and have followed my writing are familiar at least with my struggles with depression and anxiety. Although this friend was addressing another issue, I felt supported across the board and wanted to share this amazing strategy and beautiful example of how to be there for a friend after rough news.

“Hey! I’m sorry today’s news sucked – royally. It’s hard for me to not know what my loved ones need and what they don’t need. I just need to say that you are so special and unique. You are brave and inspiring. It’s a great honor to know you. I’m sorry this is happening. I am praying for your healing, peace of mind and straight up endurance But/and I promise to walk with you through this as much as you want me to, as long as you need me to.

Answer these at your leisure:

My love languages are:
It bothers me when friends:
When I need help I:
A basket of my favorite things would consist of:
Time away from my child is something that I:
You know I am sad/depressed/lonely when:
What I need most when I’m sad/depressed/lonely is:
A list of things friends should never do would be:
A list of things friends should always do would be:”

She then followed all of these questions with a bunch of random girly words and asked me to circle the ones that best described me. The words she used were very specific to me and included things like Luna Lovegood, Target, bread, knowing glances, and wine. After that, she left space for me to add any relevant information she missed.

Three months later, I am still moved by this kind act. I’ve bragged about this friend to my doctors and therapist too much, and I wanted to share her technique with people who need it the most.

Share this questionnaire, fill it out, write it in cards to friends with chronic illness, and make it your own by changing a question or two. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the responses you’ll get, just by enabling people to help and be helped.

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