An Authentic, Sometimes Gritty, and Always Hopeful Blog for All Who Live with Severe Physical Pain

Thursday, February 16, 2012

How to Show You Care for the Person in Pain

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!


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I've met a number of people with chronic pain over the years, and I've felt at a loss of what to do for them. I don't want them to think that I don't care, but I also don't want to barrage them with questions (esp. if I haven't seen them in awhile!). You've made such a difference in so many lives - I'm so grateful for you! :)

    1. I've no doubt that you have always gone out of your way to show others that you care, but now perhaps you have some ideas on specific ways to do so!

  2. These are such practical easy to understand suggestions Judi. Thanks for sharing. Praying for you and think of you often.

    Love you friend.
    Mary Adams

  3. Thank you, always, for your prayers! And,I hope these ideas will be helpful to you, Mary, as you minister and care for others! I pray for you right back! :)

  4. Judi-
    I discovered your blog via that of a dear friend who also suffers with Chronic Pain, her blog being "An Encouraging Word" and felt compelled to check your blog out. Yes-Chronic Pain is misery, and that doesn't even touch it but your suggestions for people who ask questions, hopefully out of a true caring heart, but then seem to hopelessly follow it up with another comment that does NOT help at all. My own journey with Chronic Pain started Fifteen years ago when I fell out of a tree and discovered the true meaning to "Hot-Poker Pain" as I had landed on my butt and basically split my sciatic nerve-which I personally feel is the most wicked Nerve in the body, but I also related to you because my dear Uncle, now departed from my life, suffered horribly with the same Pain you must deal with each day. You speak from experience without a doubt and when I began my blog, Pain Won't Beat Me-it didn't matter if people commented-as it just seemed that I needed to finally start TALKING about my Pain. Since then, people do leave comments and my constant prayer is for each one to keep looking for a simple second of Joy each day. You know all too well how very Hard it can be to find that second. Thank you for being so open and honest. I will continue to follow your blog. God bless you and keep you in His loving Arms. Martha

  5. Thank you for sharing, Martha. Such honesty and thoughtful words, straight from a heart. I am so sorry for what you have walked through, yet so glad you have seen the Lord in and through it. I pray too that you will know the loving arms of God! Judi

  6. Judi-
    So glad to see this "post" as its so to the POINT and gives very insightful suggestions for those around us who almost "seem uncomfortable" as they watch us suffering with Pain.

    I went to an event today-actually forced myself as it was a Luncheon to thank people for doing volunteer work. There I came, no makeup, circles under my eyes,but I had made it.

    Almost got through it with no problems, when suddenly a lady comes up and asks me "Please describe exactly HOW your Pain feels!" A dear friend was standing near me and probably praying
    "OH God, Please give Martha some Help" and I looked at this lady-wanting to say so many other things but instead, decided to try and really GIVE her what she was asking for.

    I asked "Do you know what a Cattle Prod is?" Yes-she knew that it is a stick that gives a shock to the cattle so they will move along! "Okay-so its probably correct to say that Prod must be painful-actually very Painful!" Yes-she agreed with me! Wow-I was on a roll- "So now, try to imagine that Cattle Prod, stuck to your Buttocks, causing a Burning Pain that travels all the way down your Leg and lands in your foot--and then think about that PAIN never leaving you-just being with you all the time!"

    She was speechless and walked slowly away. I wasn't rude but just plain honest. Something tells me She gave that Cattle Prod a lot of thought!

    Thanks Judi for letting me drop in and comment again on this special post of yours. Its so helpful and I pray to work hard on finding the ability to give the gracious answers you list!

    You are in my Prayers Judi-know that please.

    God bless. Martha

  7. A cattle prod is a perfect way to help someone else understand what your pain feels like. It's so hard for people to believe that we bear such pain, though, isn't it? I tell them that in the beginning, I lay in bed, writhing in pain. Although, today my pain is just as severe, I can't spend my whole life in bed! Living is a choice... Few can really "get it" but many can come to respect us. The others... I just pray for. Thanks so much for writing and for your friendship through the blogs!