When you live with limitations, you’ll inevitably disappoint yourself or others because you can’t live up to (your own) expectations.
Canceling a meeting at the last minute due to a crippling flare-up, not being able to do your ‘fair share’ around the house or having to say ‘no’ to your kids when they want to play with you, the list of things people with chronic illness can feel guilty about is long and diverse.
And even though it’s not your fault you can’t do things because you’re too sick, that doesn’t mean you don’t beat yourself up over letting people down.
But instead of apologizing all the time, there’s a way to express your ‘spoonie guilt’ in a more positive way: by saying ‘thank you’ instead of ‘I’m sorry’.
It’s a well-meant, reassuring phrase when someone you care about is going through a difficult time. But despite our best intentions, many of us don’t really know what to say or do when our friend loses a loved one or our colleague faces a life-altering illness.
There’s a fine line between giving someone space to grieve or respecting their need to deal with the tragic situation in their own way and reaching out for support. Although it’s kind not to want to burden your friend when they’re going through such a difficult time, a lot of people find it hard to ask for help when they need it.
That’s why it helps to make a specific offer when someone could use your assistance. Instead of saying “let me know if you need anything“, try to come up with something concrete that you could do to help them: watch their kids, cook a comforting meal or call them once a week to see how they’re doing. Just make sure you only offer help you’re genuinely able to give – letting your friend down when they’re counting on you is inconsiderate.
So what can you do or say to help out? Have a look at these 33 ways to best support your friend or loved ones in need.
It’s a virtue sung by Beyoncé. A theme of many Hollywood blockbusters. Fiercely fought for on the battlefields and barricades, in the streets or the privacy of your own home, independence is the hard-won right to make your own life choices and the quality to look after yourself with limited help from others.
In our culture, self-sufficiency is synonymous to strength, empowerment and liberation. Unfortunately, it’s also an issue most people with chronic illness and disabilities struggle with on a daily basis.
The loss of independence in long-term sickness or disability can take many forms. From being housebound and having to rely on state benefits for financial support to needing help with grocery shopping, doing chores around the house or driving to doctor’s appointments.
Having to dependent on others for your most basic needs can have a huge impact on your daily life, self-image and relationships.
Love can be complicated under the easiest circumstances — let alone when chronic illness comes into play.
When “in sickness and in health” becomes your daily reality instead of a promise you once made, it can put a serious strain on your relationship. And if you’re single, dating and finding a loving partner might feel totally undoable if you’re dealing with debilitating symptoms, unpredictable flare-ups and an uncertain future.
This article from The Atlantic eloquently describes the kind of dilemmas and obstacles chronically ill people face in their love life. Because, how do you even meet a potential partner when you’re housebound and struggling to do the simplest things? When do you tell your date about your health issues, fearing you might scare them off? How do you adjust to a new way of life when you or your spouse become severely ill with little chance of a full recovery?
Love in times of chronic illness requires open communication, understanding and a willingness to make it work from both parties. And even then it can be challenging. But with the right partner, love can also carry you through the toughest times.
So how can you keep love alive in the midst of hospital visits, a rollercoaster of emotions and all kinds of practical problems?I don’t have all the answers, but this is what I know:
It’s a sad fact that in times of need you find out who your true friends are. Not everyone has the courage, strength and emotional intelligence to deal with difficult situations. Others want to help out, but they simply don’t know what to say or do.
The irony is that you don’t need grand gestures or eloquent speeches to show your love and compassion – they’re found in the tiny, wordless gestures of support and understanding.
When you’re diagnosed with a chronic or life-threatening illness, the dynamics of your relationships inevitably change. Sometimes the person you want to turn to the most, suddenly stops calling you or slowly vanishes from your life when you’re no longer able to do fun things together. But other people might surprise you: the colleague who keeps checking in how you’re doing, the neighbour who offers to do your grocery shopping or drive you to the hospital.
Many articles have been written about the misconceptions and insensitive comments that sick people have to deal with. Although it’s important to address the constant frustrations and loneliness of chronically ill patients, today I want to celebrate all the lovely individuals who do get it – who understand what you’re going through, who stick around through it all, who never let you down. This is a gratitude note to the support squads of “spoonies” everywhere – and my friends and family in particular.
Find out more or adjust your settings.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.