I’ve found myself feeling hurt lately after heartfelt requests for support from friends seem to have come up short. It occurred to me that perhaps people are just unaware of how they can help. I recognize that the tumultuous nature of chronic health challenges can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be.
No matter the status of our health, I think what everyone really wants in this life is to know that we’re in it together. I often erroneously think I’m the only one dealing with chronic chaos. I try to remind myself that everyone faces their own kind of suffering. Maybe it’s not as visible as my challenges are, but being human makes us all susceptible to hardship.
Being human also wires us to need each other.
Demonstrating compassion and being available for one another takes on many different forms. For me, support can look like the following:
Calling to say hello, to share a funny story, or just to breathe through the telephone line. (Seriously, sometimes that’s the best I can manage.) Just knowing someone else is there can make all the difference.
Texting a simple, “Hi, I’m thinking of you.” Or, send a photo, meme, or something lighthearted, which can be incredibly meaningful.
Spending socially distanced periods of time together, when possible.
Exchanging snail mail.
These are a few examples of ways people can show up for others. I think we have a tendency to believe that grand gestures are required to make a difference. Instead, daily reassurances of togetherness and solidarity are what help us to feel connected.
It’s challenging to recognize when someone we care about is suffering, yet we feel helpless to respond. I think we all feel disempowered when we can’t fix other people’s problems or brainstorm for concrete solutions. So often what I look for in relationships is for others to simply join me in the confusion. Acceptance and acknowledgment go a long way in making me feel less alone.
Rather than feeling devastated when my phone is silent or my mailbox is empty, I remember that everyone experiences their own traumas. Expressing to others the ways they can be involved, and extending my own desires to support them hopefully can facilitate ways for us to be here for one another.