Thursday, August 1, 2013

how to help a friend who has a chronic illness

Dear Carla,
I have a female co worker who has been recently been diagnosed with lupus. She is due back at work on Monday. She is one of those people you would do almost anything for. Do you have any suggestions to offer emotional support? She is married and has 3 kids, which must be a drain right there. Beyond emotional support, is there anything else do you think that can be done to help?
thank you!!

Hi -

What a wonderful question. I'm pleased for your friend that you have the desire to help.

The first question to ask yourself is:
What are you good at? And what are you comfortable doing?
For example: sitting and listening, making small talk about light subjects, running errands, cooking, laundry, cleaning, dog-walking, babysitting? Going to doctor appointments together?

The household tasks are hard to keep up with when you are ill, and especially if you are using what energy you have to go to work- and then you come home to children who need you.

So, I would suggest thinking about what you can offer that you can follow through on, then ask your friend if you can help with that. If she says "no thanks" then just let her know if she thinks of some way you can be helpful, please ask. We can be proud, we patients, and it takes a while sometimes to learn to accept help. But maybe she'll be receptive right away.

Thanks on behalf of all of us who have been there for viewing her with compassion and trying to find a way to be supportive.

Carla Ulbrich
The Singing Patient

Everyone else- when you have been sick (with anything, even a common cold, but especially if you've had a serious and/ or chronic illness), what did you wish people would do or say for you? What kind of help did you want? Please comment! I'm very interested in hearing, because I think it's different for everyone.