Dealing with chronic pain is more difficult than anyone can imagine. Think about when you have been in pain before yourself. The relief and elation you feel when that pain is gone is pretty amazing, right? Well, for chronic pain suffers, that relief is something they don’t get to experience. Knowing how to help someone in this position is important. So, let’s take a look at how you can do so…
Be mindful of what you say - The first thing you need to do is be cautious with regards to what you say to the person that is living with chronic pain. Statements like “it could be worse” and “the pain is in your head” are not helpful. Some other statements that aren’t good include the likes of “if you took vitamins, slept more, and exercised more, you would feel better” and “everything happens for a reason.”
Offer help - One of the best things you can do is offer help. However, simply saying, “what can I do to help?” is not a good idea. People won’t want to put on you, and so being specific is more beneficial. For example, you could say that you are making dinner tonight and wondered if your loved one would like some brought over. Or, you could ask if your friend or family member would like you to do some research into their condition for them. For example, they may need help choosing the right orthotist and pedorthist, and so you could offer to do some research online and help them to make this decision. That way, you are helping without taking over.
Encourage, don’t criticise - It can be very easy to fall into the trap of providing unsolicited advice about what someone should or should not be doing. You may even start doing this without realising, which is why you need to be very aware of it. Yes, you may have heard about different treatments or therapies, but unless your friend or family member welcomes this sort of help, don’t offer it up. They have probably spent countless hours looking for different remedies and so it may not come across as helpful, even though you mean to be.
Don’t take it personally - When someone is unwell, we want to visit them. We want to keep them company and try to cheer them up. However, the problem with chronic pain is that it is so unpredictable, and so it becomes difficult to engage with visitors and manage the pain. Therefore, if the person changes their plans with you or declines your offer to visit, don’t be offended!
As you can see, there are a number of different ways that you can be there for a chronic pain sufferer. If you follow the advice that has been given above, you can make sure that you are a good support system for someone who is in a lot of pain.