How to Support Someone with Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a byproduct of our modern world. Before, these cases were very rare. But now the number of cases is increasing. Some suffer from chronic pain because they have a chronic disease. However, others suffer from intense, persistent pain science has no explanation for. The worst thing is that, in all cases, life can become a true hell where pain is constantly present.
Just a few decades ago, serious diseases led to relatively rapid deterioration. People died and we couldn’t do anything about it. Today, science has all kinds of ways to prolong the life of a seriously ill patient. Some diseases seem to have gotten worse, too, many of them of nervous origin. The result of this is that people can live, ill and in pain, for many years.
“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
Physical pain ranks among the most common symptoms of many diseases. Sometimes it is very disabling. You can’t get away from it. You can’t ignore it. You try to alleviate the pain with sedatives that disconnect you from your body and the outside world. But they leave you with the feeling of being, but without being.
It’s a tragic situation. Not only for those who suffer from chronic pain, but also for those close to them. Pain severely affects one’s mood and, over time, leads to significant personality changes.
A person in these conditions may become untreatable. And those who are there with them a lot of times don’t know how to help their loved one. Today, we want to give you some advice on on how to support someone with chronic pain.
Acknowledge your limitations if you want to support someone with chronic pain
If you’re close to a person suffering from chronic pain, it’s normal to start feeling guilty. You many not realize it right away, but it happens a lot. You see someone suffering and all you can do is give palliative care, which doesn’t always work. You take some of the burden from them, but you can’t do too much about it.
All of this leads to great inner turmoil and helplessness. We often entertain the fantasy that “there must be something else I can do”. You try something, then something else, then something else. In the end, you can only offer temporary relief, at best.
The first thing to do is to deal with your feeling of helplessness. Stop wasting time and energy on things that don’t produce results. It’s important to get informed about what you really can do while also setting clear limits.
What is your responsibility? What is the best way to do it? What is within your reach? Beyond that, whatever time and energy you use will just turn against you like a ball thrown against a wall.
You want to know how to support someone with chronic pain. Well, sometimes the only thing you can do is just be there, in silence. With this act you communicate that you are by their side and are willing to accept their suffering. But what you cannot do is leave.
Maybe it’s enough to just ask them what you can do to help and, if you can, do it. In many cases, for example, they would rather you spend time with them instead of searching for options or trying to make up for their pain with expensive gifts.
How to support someone with chronic pain: help yourself first
We cannot give to another what we ourselves don’t have. What we want to do is help the person suffering from chronic pain feel better. What we should avoid, though, is immersing ourselves in their pain. So, your first responsibility is to yourself. And that responsibility is to be well. To be the best you can be.
This involves acknowledging your own needs. Yes, you can give your loved one a lot, but there are so many things you cannot do for them. Not you nor anyone else. But what you can do is strengthen yourself and work on your own life. At the same time you’ll be helping make their life better too.
In particular, it’s important that you learn how to protect your own space. You have to learn how to say “no” in certain circumstances. A person with chronic pain can be very absorbing. You don’t want their frustrations to become your frustrations.
They’re facing a very difficult situation and sometimes they will have no outlet but to blame you or demand more than you can give. This is understandable. However, that does not mean that the angry things they say are true.
It will help you a lot to learn how to recognize when you need to get out of the situation. With kindness and affection, you can make them understand that they can also help you by respecting the time you’re not together.
Taking care of yourself is crucial if you want to learn how to support someone with chronic pain. Even if they refuse or try to spread their frustration, your presence and good attitude will help them. Remember that.