How to be friends with someone who’s “sick”

Over the past 2 years, I’ve been asked a few times by friends what is the best way to show up for someone who’s been diagnosed with a disease.

While I’m definitely not an expert, and everyone needs something different in friendships, however, here are a few things I’ve learned I’ve needed as I learn to live with my auto-immune sidekick.

After my diagnosis with MS in December of 2014, I shared a post about People’s Reactions to a Public Diagnosis. I got amazing feedback from some of you, who let me know that they hadn’t really thought about how the “I’m Sorry” comes across and how they were making a more conscious effort of offering practical help to others as their friends deal with new health issues.

While this post was very personal for me and how I react to others, I’m glad that it may have helped other’s as they show up for their friends during a health crisis.

So this post is inspired by a friend who has had to be there for some of her close friends this year and as she deals with her own health diagnosis this year.

  1. Hold space for them to be heard. Moral of the story. Learn to just listen, without advice or opinion. This one can be so difficult. If you’re a chatty Kathy, like myself, this one is something I’m still working on.
  2. Share resources you are aware of so that they can go through them when they are mentally ready to tackle educating themselves. But ask first!
  3. Share what a healthcare practitioner has done for you so they can imagine why they would reach out to a naturopath, or acupuncturist, etc
  4. Offer practical help, from going grocery shopping for them, to driving them to an appointment, to picking up supplements for them, or simply suggest a relaxing night like a movie night where they don’t have to talk or think but simply have company as they process new emotions and thoughts.
  5. Show interest in what they are doing for themselves. My friends have listened to me countless times on how I’m adapting my meal plan or supplements or self-care as I learn to live well with MS. Simply being listened to and heard was amazing.
  6. Don’t treat them like babies. I want to feel strong and be strong. If I allow others to treat me as weak then I’ll end up treating myself that way as well. If that makes any sense.

That’s my two cents, I hope it helps as you show up for others in this world.

If you have been diagnosed with a sidekick, what have your friends done for you that have impacted your healing process?

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