Chronic pain can feel very isolating, causing stress and worsening symptoms. Having the support of family and friends contributes to well-being, helping ease pain and enhancing the quality of life. Sometimes it's hard to know how to help your loved one with chronic pain. By following the ABCs of support, you can offer one of the most healing gifts, love!
The ABCs of Support
Ask – Chronic pain sufferers get tired of being told what is best for them. Start supporting them by asking what support they feel would benefit them.
Believe –Try your best to be receptive and allow your loved one to feel heard. Avoid minimizing their pain, challenges, or concerns.
Constructive Compassion – Practice active listening, repeating your loved one’s sentiments back to them in your own words to ensure you understand what they are trying to share about their journey.
Be Dependable – Pain is unpredictable! When you commit to offering support, be clear regarding what you will do and when. Your loved one will appreciate having someone stable to depend on.
Empower – Chronic pain warriors should be encouraged to make choices that honor their unique needs and autonomy. This is a great way to contribute to their emotional and physical well-being.
Familiarize – No one expects you to have an encyclopedic knowledge of their condition. However, taking the time to learn more about someone’s condition is an excellent way to show you care.
Generate Gratitude – Gratitude practice positively impacts pain management. Consider sharing a few things you are grateful for about your loved one and in your life and encourage them to do the same.
Heart-Centered Acts- If being there for someone starts to feel overwhelming, practice good self-care and take a breather if need be. Your support should be a choice, not a chore.
Individualize – Always treat your loved one as an individual. They are not their pain or one of many sufferers. They are bigger than their struggles, and so is your relationship.
Spread Joy – It’s easy to fall into the trap of ruminating on pain. Send funny memes, text funny stories, or share old memories to put a smile on both of your faces.
Keep Up – The pain warriors’ path is ever-changing! Check in regularly about any changes with your loved one’s pain management journey.
Love from a Distance– Pain can be mentally and physically draining. Your loved one may need a couple of days to recharge their batteries. Please be understanding if they need space.
Maintain Communication – Even if your loved one wants space, try to check in regularly if they are okay with it. Chronic pain can be an isolating experience, and a few words can mean the world.
Normalize the Changes – Your relationship may have looked very different before chronic pain. Maybe you used to garden or work out together. Learn to accept the new normal and try new things to enjoy together.
Observe –Have you noticed your loved one moving easier, doing fewer activities, feeling more pessimistic? Sharing these observations can help the pain sufferer and their doctor gain essential insights.
Promote Self-Reliance –Whenever possible, do activities with your loved ones instead of for them. For example, you can cut the vegetables, and they can season them. Help them rebuild trust in their abilities.
No Quick Fixes – Chronic pain is a complex condition. There are no failproof solutions. There will be times you will both have to accept pain as part of the journey.
Reassure – While you may not be able to fix things, reassuring words can provide comfort, ease anxiety, and uplift. Consider sharing our past blog on Affirmations for Chronic Pain with your loved one.
Socialize – The thought of heading outside of the house can feel daunting to pain sufferers for many reasons. A little encouragement can go a long way. Persuade your loved one to start small, a walk to the park, or join a friend for a coffee.
Trust–If your loved one can advocate for themselves and feels their medical team is helpful, be supportive and non-judgemental. Trust their team and bolster your loved one’s confidence and optimism.
Unified Front –Offering to accompany friends or family to their appointments as a silent supporter or to help articulate their needs can significantly reduce their anxiety and boost their courage.
Validate – Should healthcare concerns arise, it is important to validate them. Chronic pain sufferers can feel disregarded; encourage them to voice their concerns or seek professionals who will listen.
Welcome Feedback –Encourage honest feedback regarding how your help can evolve along with your loved one’s condition, making the most of the support you offer.
Exchange – It’s a blessing to be there for your loved one but be sure to ask things of them too! A listening ear, thoughtful advice, a favorite recipe. Highlight their contributions to your life and the world.
Be Yourself –Don’t let the pain change how you treat your loved one. With so many things changing in your loved one’s life, you are one of the few comforting constants.
Zen Vibes – Peaceful moments sitting together quietly, meditating, or practicing breathwork can help ease your loved one’s pain but can also be beneficial for you. Your presence is one of the greatest gifts you can offer.