It's hard to know how to show care for someone whose life is challenged by severe physical pain. And, honestly, there is no formula for how to do it well.
What I've put together is the culmination of my work with dozens of people, their families and friends too, who journey with pain. My hope is that it will serve as a resource for you who suffer, and for you who support those who do.
Thank you for caring about us. We know it is often hard to know what
we need from you, so here are some suggestions to help you:
Please, don’t try to “fix this” for us. We don’t need you to. We just need you to care about us and let us know that we are loved by you.
Please don’t feel discouraged if we don’t become completely “well.” We are confused and scared much of the time, however, we desire to live as well as we can, despite how sick or how much pain we must bear. Please don’t give up on us, or we might too.
Please stay in touch with us! Send us a note, an e-mail, or call us. We may not get out so much, however, we sure do need to stay involved as much as possible.
Please acknowledge that we are ill, but don’t press us for a full report. Rather than asking the standard, “How are you?” question, please say, “It’s good to see you here.” If you really want to engage with us, ask us, “What is this like for you?”
Please avoid platitudes such as, “God never gives you more than you can stand.” This doesn’t help us to accept our illness any better, and it’s likely to hurt our faith.
Please don’t invite us to a healing event, or to see a certain doctor, or try out a certain treatment unless you are an intimate friend of ours, and know our situation very well. You cannot imagine the number of suggestions we get—it is overwhelming.
Please don’t overlook our family members. We tend to get all the attention, whereas, they get most of the work and bear much of the anxiety. They sure could use a call or lunch out.
Please help us in practical ways. Rather than say, “Please let me know what I can do to help you,” offer specific support based upon your own talents and time allowances.
Please invite us to events and things even though we are ill. We have limited energy, but most of us still can get out and do things - we just have to plan carefully. It will really bless us if you ask us what kind of accommodations we might need and if you tell us that you will understand if we need to cancel at the last minute because of pain.
Please tell us about your life, and don’t feel that “next to us you have nothing to complain about”. We have the monopoly on difficult circumstances -- we care about what you are going through, and want to be a friend who cares, as you have been to us.
Please pray for us! And, let us pray for you too. We want to do so!