The Mighty Logo

5 Little Things You Can Do to Support Your Friend With Chronic Illness

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I was talking to a coworker the other day about what it means to have support in your life. I had a hard time trying to articulate how important it was to have a support system in life. Not just regarding someone with a chronic illness, just in life in general. I was reminded of a term that most of the women in my life used  — it was called being an advocate.

If I die tomorrow, the one thing I will be most proud of is having a close relationship with my friends that I truly care about, and that I know care about me. Yes, like anyone I’ve had friends that come and go, but each one of them affected my life in a positive way. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for their encouragement and their support. Dealing with lupus would be near impossible. A lot of times friends think “What can I do?” or “I don’t want them to seem like I’m treating them with ‘kid gloves’ or hovering.” Here’s my advice: Hover.

It’s as simple as asking if they need anything or bringing them something. For example, my flare-ups are usually focused on my knees, which make it hard to walk sometimes. I woke up one morning with a lot of pain and my best friend noticed. Then he uttered the most beautiful words a man in his 20s can hear: “Stay here, don’t get up. I’m going to get McDonalds for breakfast.” I could have cried. I probably did. My point is it was that simple. If I had to get up and get my own breakfast it would have taken me 30 minutes of sighing and moaning from the pain. It’s just the simple act of being there for someone.

So here are some examples of little things you can do with dealing with someone with a chronic illness or lupus:

Words of encouragement. Leaving notes, Facebook messages, e-cards, anything showing support goes a long way. It can be the difference for whether a person gets out of bed that day or not.

Offer to do a chore for them. Chances are that if someone with lupus is having a bad week (I called it Flare Week) they’re not focused on getting dishes washed or doing the laundry. Pop over and do it for them. Just one load. It will change their life.

Take life at their pace. Living and working in a metropolitan city (Washington, D.C.), it takes a lot for me to get all gussied up and go out for happy hour with my friends after working all day. Nine times out of 10, I’m going to cancel. Offer to spend the night in with me watching Disney movies and baking brownies. You’ll have way more fun and… brownies.

Gifts, plain and simple. I like things. Who doesn’t!? Being a guy, the easiest way to get to my heart is through my stomach. If you offer to bring me food, I might propose. But it can be anything — magazines, movies, board games, anything to occupy their time while they’re stranded at home having a flare-up.

This may seem silly, but slow down! A lot of my friends are in fairly good shape and they’re all really fast walkers. I am not a fast walker, never have been, never will be. If we’re at the mall or out for a night on the town, just walk with me. I know it’s frustrating, but it takes a lot for people with lupus to move their body. Take breaks, slow down, park close.

These are just a few things that you can do to show support. They don’t have to be massive gestures, just keep it simple. All you need is one person, a solid force that will be there for you without judgment. It takes just one.

Follow this journey on Random Thoughts From My Head.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: April 18, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home