If you’ve recently (or even not so recently) found out that a friend or family member or random person you met on the street has a chronic illness of any kind, you may not know what to say to them. It can be a difficult thing to wrap your mind around. The idea that someone you love or someone you like or some random person you met on the street is sick and is either never going to be “normal” again or isn’t going to be “normal” for the foreseeable future [is hard]. And those of us who deal with these illnesses every day understand that. We really do. But unfortunately, we’re a group of people who are VERY prone to feelings of isolation, and all too often it’s because the people in our lives don’t know what to say to us.
So here’s what to say to us:
Pretty much anything you would have said to us before we got sick.
Really. It’s that simple.
While efforts to be sensitive to us and our illnesses are greatly appreciated, don’t let that deter you from talking to us like we’re just like anyone else. Because we are.
I know it can be scary to talk to someone whose life is clouded by illnesses few people really understand. I know you’re probably scared that you’re going to say something wrong or make a mistake. But if you like or love that chronically ill person and are willing to learn, you’ll be forgiven. Probably quickly. I promise.
And having someone you like or love accidentally say something insensitive (but being willing to learn WHY what they said was insensitive) is a lot less painful than never hearing from someone again once they learn that you’re sick.
Some people will leave because for whatever reason they don’t think they have room for a chronically ill person in their life. It’s the most painful fact of life I’ve had to learn.
But for those of you who DO care, and are just scared, know that we’re scared too.
So here’s what you say to us:
Anything within reason.
Just say something.
You can hear more from Beccah on her blog: