Of course you mean well. You see a friend or family member who’s suffering from chronic pain and you want to offer advice and encouragement. Unfortunately, some of the most common comments people make have the opposite effect. Don’t fret; it’s easy to turn a potentially hurtful question or comment into the warm sentiment you meant to give. Read on to find the right words for someone suffering with chronic pain.
DON’T SAY: If you got out of the house more, I’m sure you’d feel better.
IT SOUNDS LIKE: You never want to do anything. You’re just wallowing in your condition.
DO SAY: I know your pain level varies, so is it OK if I keep inviting you to do things, and when you’re up to it you can say yes?
DON’T SAY: You don’t look sick or But you look so good!
IT SOUNDS LIKE: If you were really in pain, I would be able to tell.
DO SAY: I never realized that pain could be so invisible. I admire how well you’re able to cope while still managing to look good.
DON’T SAY: Go back to work; it’ll give you something else to think about.
IT SOUNDS LIKE: I wish I could stay home on the couch all day too, but I have to work.
DO SAY: It must be really difficult to have to give up working.
DON’T SAY: Is it really that bad?
IT SOUNDS LIKE: Come on, I’ve had pain before. It didn’t hurt that much.
DO SAY: I can’t imagine what you’re going through, but I’m here for whatever you need.
Written by: Lisa Copen, author of Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend (Rest Ministries, 2005)
and the founder of the pain support organization Rest Ministries.
Originally published by: Pain Solutions Magazine, Spring 2010
Photo Credit: by Retrodiva88, courtesy of Stock Free Images