12 Things People With Chronic Illness Wish Their Loved Ones Would Say More Often
If you have a loved one with chronic illness, it can be tough to know what to say. Sometimes, even the most well-intentioned comments can actually be hurtful, and cause those with health conditions to feel isolated and misunderstood. Friends and family may often feel like they should be giving their sick loved one helpful advice, words of wisdom or ideas on how to “fix” their situation; after all, when someone you care about is hurting, it’s only natural to want to do everything in your power to take the hurt away.
But chronic illnesses can’t be “fixed” – not even by our doctors – and there is no single, grand solution our loved ones can help us discover that will automatically make everything better. Oftentimes, what those with chronic illness need from the people in their lives is much simpler: understanding, support, compassion, love. People who will believe us, listen to us, and have our backs as we navigate the complicated and frustrating world of chronic illness.
To offer some guidance to loved ones wondering what to say, our Mighty chronic illness community shared what they would love to hear from friends and family more often. If you have a sick loved one in your life, letting them know the following (and, of course, really meaning it!) could mean more than you know. And for those who live with chronic illness, know that all of the following are 100 percent true – and our community is always here for you.
Here’s what our chronic illness community shared with us:
1. “You are enough.”
“I wish my loved ones would tell me: ‘You are enough.’ Because I often question whether I am ‘enough’ as a person that doesn’t function like everyone else around her.” – Karina S.
2. “How are you, really?”
“I wish they would ask me how I’m feeling and not assume I’m having a good day because I look OK. I wish they would show compassion when I suddenly have fibromyalgia flares and need to rest instead of ignoring me, sarcasm, eye rolls and heavy sighs because I can‘t help with household chores.” – Adrienne W.
3. “You are valuable.”
“I would to hear, ‘You matter, Mom.’” – Cynthi
“I’d just like to hear that I’m still a valuable part of our family. So often I feel like a burden… I don’t want to feel this way!” – Ama W.
4. “I believe you.”
“‘I believe you, and it’s not just in your head.’” – DMar
“I think a look of understanding would be enough – not a look of pity, not a look of disbelief. Just a look of understanding and caring, followed by a ‘I believe you, and I’m here for you.’” – Crystal H.
“‘I believe you,’ ‘I love you,’ ‘Do you need a hug?,’ ‘Is there anything I can do?’ Those are all things I wish my loved ones would say more.” – Suzanne C.
“I wish they stopped making me feel like I am exaggerating my symptoms, or pain. I know they feel pain too but are able to manage, but I cannot along with the other problems I have.” – Tara C.
5. “I’m proud of you.”
“‘I’m proud of you.’ (Sometimes it is hard to be proud of yourself when it feels like you’re always failing, in ways big and small. Those words would make me swell with joy!)” – Kat H.
“‘I’m proud of you for getting out of bed today,’ ‘I know you tried your hardest today,’ ‘We’ll try again tomorrow.’” – Anna C.
“‘I’m proud of you for fighting through.’” – Gabrielle G.
6. “I’m listening.”
“‘I’m here if you need to talk or just someone to listen.’” – Suzanne C.
“Only to listen more often. I have a very supportive husband, he is trying be ‘creative’ with words. Really, would be much easier to comment, what I don’t want to hear.” – Marianna H.
7. “How can I help you today?”
“‘What can I do for you today?’ Because I get tired of always asking for help especially on days when brushing my teeth feels like climbing a mountain.” – Monetta W.
“‘What can I do to help? Could I come over and vacuum, or clean your house? Could I bring you a meal once a week?’ Those [things] are what I wish for.” – Susie W.
“‘What do you need from me today?’ Rather than, ‘do you need anything.’” – Allysha S.
8. “I’m sorry you’re struggling.”
“‘I know you’re hurting and I’m sorry.’” – Terry B.
“‘Sorry you’re hurting. It’s OK to rest.’” – Elaine R.
“‘I’m sorry you’re feeling bad.’” – tryingtofindme67
9. “I understand.”
“To be quite honest, something as simple as ‘I understand’ but then actually truly understanding would be a great comfort to me.” – Rachael T.
“‘I get it. I get that you hurt, and I see that you keep trying.’” – Eileen K.
“Even though they really cannot take the pain away, but just trying to understand and instead of saying, ‘you are always sick,’ maybe show I am loved and that they would talk to me about it.” – Cindy
“‘I get it! I know how hard it is and you are doing great!’” – Siobhan N.
10. “You are not a burden.”
“That I’m not a failure. That I’m understood. That I’m not a burden or a blackhole that drains them. That I’m not alone in my fight. That they want me to keep fighting and not give up. That they wouldn’t be better off without me, despite my health. That I’m loved and believed. Maybe asking if they can help in any way or if I need rest/a break. Asking what I can do that would make me happy that day and helping me accomplish it. That they don’t hold my fibromyalgia against me.” – Tiffany U.
“‘You aren’t a burden. You have a right to simply exist, without needless judgment or shame.’” – Andrea W.
“‘You are never a burden or disappointment. You matter to me. I don’t mind helping you because I love you. I’m sorry you’re in pain. Is there anything I can do to help you?’” – Stormy S.
11. “Let’s spend time together, in whatever way works for you.”
“I understand it’s difficult for you to go out. I enjoy having coffee right here at home with you. Or, I’ll go get a pizza/burgers, and we can eat at home.’” – Susie C.C.
“I wish people could understand that I cannot socialize. I need my friends to say, ‘I love you and want to spend time with you, even if you can’t converse.’ Sit by me and watch a movie. Bring your own book to read. Just say it is OK for me not to talk a lot! I am sensitive to noise and get extraordinarily stressed.” – Andree
12. “You are loved.”
“Give me a hug and say, ‘I regret you must go through (whatever is happening) and you have my love to go with you.’” – rpage
“‘I love you just the way you are.’ They want me to be the same person I used to be before fibro, but it’s not going to happen.” – Eileen K.
“‘I love you. Your presence in my life is important to me. You are not your illness and I never consider you a burden. Just for this moment please remember that I am so glad you are here and I’m sorry you are in pain.’” – Brett
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