The Right Words to Use with Loved Ones Coloradans Are Caring For – newsletter 6-24-24

According to a feature article appearing of NextAvenue.org, people regularly struggle with the right words to use when they are caring for someone with chronic illness. Jennifer Cramer-Miller, herself a sufferer of chronic illness, is an author and speaker on the subject. She tells NextAvenue that discomfort is understandable. So is confusion, she says, because when you consult the internet for tips on “what not to say to someone with chronic illness,” you get literally millions of suggestions. She argues the result is that “Well-meaning people, terrified of saying the wrong thing, say nothing [and] the chronically ill often feel like they’ve crossed a line that separates them from healthy people.” Cramer-Miller suggests the following options as a way to show sensitivity without the fear of using the right or wrong words:

  • Focus on listening instead of talking. There’s no need to unleash positive slogans or try to “fix” anything.
  • Act naturally. When people act like themselves around someone with illness, it makes the ill person feel more authentic. “Read the room,” but don’t automatically assume a somber tone.
  • Be compassionate. Assure your loved one they don’t have to be upbeat. Let them know any mood is okay and meet them where they are.
  • Offer your unique gifts. If you love to cook, make a meal for your loved one. If you are funny and the time is right, tell jokes or share memes. If you are a writer, write something. If you are a book person, lend a book or share one with the person.
  • Allow yourself imperfection. It’s unreasonable to expect that you’ll always say and do the ideal thing.

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