Chronic illness can be a difficult subject to talk about because it affects many people and their loved ones. In addition, it can be hard for someone living with chronic illness to ask for support from others because they are often so focused on managing their health.
Let's take a look at some of the best ways to show your support without adding too much pressure or stress on them.
You need to consider all their symptoms and find out what empowers them. What is it that makes them feel good about themselves? What gives them energy? What are their hobbies and interests outside of the illness like yoga, soccer, or football that can keep the positive aura going?
It's important to understand that it may not be what you think will help. For example, your loved ones might need time alone when they feel overwhelmed by life or have a difficult day with symptoms. They could also use extra support with tasks like grocery shopping, cooking, or cleaning. Always be keen to understand their point of view. Please do not forget about your health too.
The most important thing is to listen. Listen, ask questions, and be open-minded about what they need from you during this time in their life. It may not always make sense at the moment, but it will become more evident over time–and that's when your support can show them just how much you care.
It might not be possible in every situation, but you can still try to support the person living with a chronic illness by fulfilling their wishes if it's within your power. For example, let them choose what movie they want to watch on Netflix, what meal they want for dinner, or where they would like to fly to. It allows them to have some control of their life in a time when they might feel like there's nothing under their control.
You may also find some shocking requests like the send-off requests. Some people will choose to specify how they would want their send-off by choosing military caskets, the types of songs in the wake, or even where to be buried. If you're having a hard time figuring out what to do, ask the person living with the chronic illness or someone who knows them well for ideas that would be helpful.
A friend or family member living with a chronic illness may want to share their struggles, but they don't need your pity. To make them feel supported and loved, be empathetic – not sympathetic. Pity is when you view the person as weak because of their experience. However, empathy considers that people who have a chronic illness are still strong and independent.
You can summarize the difference between sympathy and empathy in one sentence: “I feel sorry for you” is a statement of pity, not empathy, whereas “How does that make you feel?” is an empathetic question.
Do minor chores like folding laundry, washing dishes, or picking up around the house. You might not have time to do all of them every day, but it's a nice gesture if you can manage some once in a while.
In conclusion, there are endless ways to support someone living with a chronic illness. However, it is essential to remember that sometimes it takes more effort than just the act of doing something nice for your loved one. Sometimes they need help to change their routine, manage stress or depression and anxiety to have better days.