How to Bring Happiness to Someone with a Chronic Disease
If you are reading this, then, first of all, thank you for being a good friend who wants to help someone living with a chronic disease. Here are some suggestions that you might want to consider:
Just be there for them
Living with a chronic disease can make all daily living tasks a challenge, and if getting out of the house, it is easy for them to be “out of sight, out of mind”. Help them not to feel neglect by regularly sending an email, text or tweet-or a card or postcard or even occasionally a small care package in the mail, and don't worry too much if they don't always answer. If they can talk on the phone, call them.
Share what’s going on in your life
A problem shared is a problem halved, so don’t be afraid to say what is bothering you, whether it is stress at work, concerns about your children or just that you’re feeling under the weather, just don’t compare your situation to theirs, unless you share the same chronic disease, in which case, this can be really helpful and supportive to you both.
Sometimes it is difficult
You may not always be able to cheer up your friend, and that's ok. Being cheerful all the time can feel like a burden almost anyone whether healthy or have a chronic illness. If you make a plan to meet up, add that if they have to cancel, even at the last minute, that’s fine. This may happen multiple times, but please don’t stop making future plans. When your friend is down, a gift will show you care, even if you don’t fully understand how chronic disease can make you feel. Some yellow roses will brighten up any room and if caring for flowers is difficult for them, try synthetic flowers or gilded flowers in precious metal.
Don’t ask how they are
Most chronic conditions do not change, so asking how someone is can be awkward. A simple greeting is to say, "nice to see you." You might try asking how their week or day was: this gives them the opportunity to tell you anything, related or unrelated to health.
Go over and visit
Getting out of the house can sometimes feel like an impossible task when you have a chronic illness. Ask if you can come over to watch a movie (or something else low-key that you think the friend would enjoy).
Pick something that you would like to do to help. This could include going to pick up prescriptions, groceries, and whatever other shopping they would like. Take the cat to the vet. Offer to help with paperwork if they are applying for disability or having a review. You don’t have to do everything but asking with a “Would it help if I….?” and you can add that you would like to do that or something that would be useful because you would like to help.
Do not give advice, unless asked
Most people with a chronic illness could write a large Bingo card full of sayings that they have heard dozens of times. If you are asked for help researching something, then you can share information without risk of hurting feelings, but whatever you do, don’t say any of the following, because everyone with a chronic disease is infuriated by them. However, if you are in a situation with a friend where they are meeting new people who may be a bit clueless, you could share a secret bingo card with these phrases:
- You need to get out more
- Are you getting enough sleep?
- You sleep too much
- You don't look sick
- Think positive!
- My friend was cured by...
- Yesterday you could... Why can't you today?
- You need to exercise
- I wish I had the time to nap
- You should try this diet
- Oh, I get that too
- I wish I didn't have to work
- It could be worse
- It's made up by big pharma
- You should stop...
- Are you better yet?
- You're just stressed
- I haven't heard of that. Is it real?
- You have that because...
- You take too many medications.