Your family lives with your pain too. Although they can’t feel what you feel, they suffer from knowing that you suffer. They may feel helpless and lost at times, not knowing how to help or what the future holds. They may struggle with feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, distress and poorer health. They need help too. Even though you live with chronic pain,  you can still provide support for your loved ones. I have listed some ideas below.

  • Try to see the world from their perspective:  how they see things, what they feel, what worries them, what makes them happy, what triggers depression. Show that you care about how they are feeling and what they need.
  • Offer kindness and warmth – sometimes it is easy to skip this when you are hurting. But, a kind word, a gentle tone, a touch, or taking the time to listen shows that you care about your loved one.
  • Direct communication can be very useful to your loved ones who may not be sure how to help. Ask for what you need. That makes it easier for others to help.  Try to convey ideas as clearly as possible and work to understand what is being said to you. Try to avoid jumping to conclusions, reading people’s minds, or assuming you know what was “really” meant.
  • Show affection – we all love to receive affection and giving it feels good too. No matter your own level of pain, you can still let others know they are loved.
  • Have fun – do some fun things every week. They don’t need to be expensive or elaborate or even time-consuming. Having fun is mostly a state of mind.
  • Be respectful – saying “please”, “thank-you,” and “I am sorry” shows that you care and respect each other.
  • If you think your loved one would benefit from therapy, suggest it, gently. Offer to help find a therapist.
  • Give top priority to your relationships. Love matters.
 

 

About the Author. Dr. Linda Ruehlman is a social/health psychologist and researcher, co-founder of Goalistics, and director of the Chronic Pain Management Program, an interactive site that helps people with chronic pain to manage their pain and live richer, more effective lives as well as Think Clearly about Depression, a self-management program for depression.

DISCLAIMER: This blog is provided as an educational and informational resource only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional psychological or medical advice.

Photograph Courtesy of Benita VanWinkle