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What can we say and do for women living with Chronic Illness?

It is hard living with daily stress for the average woman, so can you imagine what living that life along with a chronic illness feels like? It is disheartening at times to want to be able to do all the things, but you just can’t. I know a lot of our readers can totally relate with this and feel this on a regular basis. The person you once were looks different now. Sometimes living with an illness means the way you do life is not the same as the way you did it before your diagnosis. As a caregiver for my mom, for the year in a half she lived after her diagnosis, I watched her change from a very independent woman to a brittle and fragile lady. It was so sad to watch her body deteriorate like that and I ached for her. This was her case, but not all women living with chronic illness are facing death so soon. Instead these women are facing a long life that is forever changed by their diagnosis. So you may ask, what do we say to these women? How can we encourage and help them along their new journey without putting our feet in our mouths? I thought I could give you some tips on how to encourage and help women walking this out in their daily lives.

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TIP 1 – Encourage Words

Encourage them and let them know how amazing they are. They struggle, sometimes daily, and to know that it isn’t futile is so uplifting.

 

TIP 2 – Flexible Schedule

Often times women on this journey feel guilty for canceling on you or not being able to be there in the capacity they want to. Remind them that they are not a burden and however they can help is enough. If they can’t make it to something, don’t make them feel guilty, instead reschedule and be excited for the next time you can get together. Remind them that any time with them is better than no time.

TIP 3 – Compliments

Remind them how beautiful they are. Compliment them, especially if you know they may be going through a rough season. All women love to be reminded how beautiful they are, inside and out, so don’t forget to do that for women on this walk as well. 

TIP 4 – Acts of Service

Instead of asking them how you can help, offer specific help you are willing to do. For instance, I can walk your dog for the next week to give you a little break or I thought I would bring you dinner tomorrow so you don’t have to cook. Remind them that you love them through your actions and not just your words. I never knew what to tell people when they asked me how they could help us through mom’s illness but the ones that just stepped in, I appreciated so much. I was already dealing with so much I didn’t have the mental capacity to delegate jobs that I could just muster out myself, but it sure was a huge help when someone did step in.

TIP 5 – Normalcy

Finally, don’t be awkward around them because you aren’t sure what to say. Talk to them the way you have been talking to them for years. Your whole friendship or relationship doesn’t have to change just because your friend or family member is now living with their chronic illness. When you change the way you are with them you change the way the relationship is. Sometimes some normalcy in a world of changing realities is just what the doctor ordered. Love them the same way you always have!

Having your whole world change, what is seemingly overnight is no easy task. As a friend or family member of the women going through this, you have an awesome opportunity to walk this out with them. This is more than likely something that will affect them the rest of their lives. Be a light in the world and a walking encouragement for them. Don’t change your relationship just enhance it by showing up in more ways than you used to. Don’t overwhelm them but instead be the friend or family member that understands they are still human but now have a different walk than you. Don’t be discouraged if their lives change and the time they once had for you is different, but instead walk alongside them in the way THEY need you to. If you aren’t sure what that is just ask. Ask without judgment. Ask without expectation. Ask without discouraging them. Ask with the love you have for them and they will see it shine through you.

 

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