Monday, October 6, 2008

Get well soon

This week I thought I'd talk about how to show someone you care. I want to start this series by talking about when someone is ill. This illness might be chronic, acute, fatal, or mild. There are so many things that can go under the category of "illness". Today's post will concentrate on chronic illness. Here are some thoughts:

  • If you know someone is hurting or having a bad spell, send her a get well card or gift. It doesn't have to be anything big, just something to show that you are thinking of her and wish her well. However, don't put stress on the "get well" part, instead concentrate on saying "feel better" or "I'm thinking of you".
  • She may be unwilling to ask for help, but chances are she would appreciate it. Avoid asking what you can do and instead think of something you know would help her and ask if it's okay for you to do it.
  • Recognize that chronic pain and fatigue can make anyone irritable at times, and if she seems irritable, it's nothing personal.
  • Be flexible when making plans and don't make her feel guilty if she cannot do something or must reschedule a date due to her condition.
  • If you visit, be an easygoing guest. Don't expect to be entertained and be prepared to do things for her if wanted. If you expect too much, this will only give her unneeded stress. Your company in just sitting quietly and reading a book is appreciated.
  • Ask if you can run an errand for her before visiting.
  • Don't assume she can't do something without asking first.
  • Keep her disability in mind when making plans and make sure that venues or situations you choose will be accessible and friendly to her condition.
  • Drop prepared food or homemade food in disposable containers at her house.
  • Invite her to a spontaneous event. Although it may seem like she can't go anywhere without a lot of planning, if you catch her on a good day she will know right away if she can go.
  • Let her know that she can talk to you and you will listen,then actually listen, and just listen. Chronically ill people often have a lot they want to get off their chest but they feel they will burden others with their concerns and frustrations.
  • Be a shoulder for her to cry on and no matter how trivial something may see to you, remember it is a big deal for her.
  • Do some research of your own into her condition to better understand her symptoms and treatments. If you find anything that may help her let her know in an no-pressure way.
  • Be her advocate. If you are at an event and there is an issue because of her disability, speak up!
  • Don't minimize or trivialize her symptoms, and don't pretend or think that you know or understand exactly what she is going through.
  • Remember the caretakers. These are people who may devote a lot of time or energy caring for a loved one with a chronic illness. These people could use a little extra emotional support too, even if it's just asking "how are you?" or offering to take over their care duties for a couple hours.


Deanna said...

You must have experience with someone with a chronic illness. I live with a muscle disorder that isn't life threatening, but is life debilitating. Your advice for supporting these type situations is wonderful.

Janine said...

Thank you very much Deanna, I do feel like I have some experience, which brings compassion...experience can be a wonderful thing.

Jennifer and Jason Young said...

lovely reminders! thank you so much!

CT said...

While in my craft class last week, the ladies sent a get well card to another lady's husband who had surgery. I had surgery two weeks prior to this and recieved nothing. I was very hurt. How do I handle this situation?

Janine said...

CT- This can be difficult. It's hard to teach others compassion and even more difficult to teach them to use their compassion consistently. There is really nothing you can "do" per say. I understand your hurt feelings and they are totally valid. All we can do is be the example in that situation. Be the kind of person who you would want someone to be to you. Do unto others...that's a fail safe motto. No, it doesn't pay off always, but at least we can walk away with our integrity intact. All my best and I hope you have recovered well from your surgery!