By Sarah Pasia
Growing up with two siblings and family members with chronic illnesses has had its highs and lows. We’ve overcome many obstacles, appointments, surgeries, and therapies together. Regardless of the hardships we have all gone through, we have only made each other stronger. It has taken me over two decades to understand how to be the best sister, cousin, and friend of someone living with a chronic disease. Here are a few lessons that I have learned over the years.
Patience is an essential part of being empathetic. The more patient you are, the calmer they will feel. When they understand that you have an extra five-minutes to spare, it can reduce unnecessary stress and possible accidents.
It is in our human nature to be curious, but it is in our best interest to ask questions. Assuming that someone has a medical condition is never tasteful. If curiosity gets the best of you, open the doors for communication. Take time to listen.
Most people dislike when they are being stared at or being spoken about. When you sense that someone is staring at another person or making a negative comment, remember that it never hurts to speak up. I have always enjoyed sharing the conditions of my loved ones with others so they have a chance to become more understanding and more empathetic to their situation. By educating others of one’s chronic illness, not only do we reduce ignorance, but we also raise awareness.
One of the worst things in life is feeling alone. Even though we came into this world alone does not mean we can function without support from loved ones. Support is necessary in coping and healing when suffering from a chronic illness. Anything from taking them to their appointment or cheering them on at the Special Olympics, support is always welcomed.
The simple things do matter. Inform the restaurant you are going to of their dietary restrictions, watch their favorite movie with them, or grab them something at the store just because you thought of them. Those living with a chronic illness do not need added negativity or burdens in their life. Regardless of how your day is going, try your best to surround them with respect, love, and consideration. In turn, your kind demeanor will only reflect you in a positive way.
Just a reminder:
These tips can and should be employed in everyday life. Not only should you treat people with chronic illnesses this way, but you should also treat everyone with the utmost kindness and respect on a daily basis.