Watching people you love battle illness and health problems can be incredibly distressing. As a concerned friend or family member, it’s natural to want to help and support them as best you can. In this guide, we’ll offer some tips to help you make life a bit easier for loved ones going through tough times.
Understanding the Problem
Many of us have limited knowledge or experience of complex health issues, which can make life challenging. From terminal illnesses and diseases like cancer to addictions and mental health problems, it’s very difficult to understand or appreciate what people are going through if you’ve never heard of an illness before, or you haven’t been through it yourself. To help, it’s advisable to carry out research using reputable sources, to seek advice from health professionals and to gain an understanding of the kinds of symptoms your loved one is experiencing. You may not be able to put yourself in their shoes, but it’s beneficial to gain an insight.
With physical health problems, it’s often the case that individuals speak to their friends and family after receiving a diagnosis and starting treatment. With mental illness and addictions, people are often scared to reach out and seek help. If you have concerns about a loved one and you think they may need help in the form of counseling or support from a drug treatment center, or you’re worried that a friend may be suffering from depression, encourage them to take the first step. Offer to go to an appointment with them, ensure that they know that you will be there for them and try to explain the benefits of reaching out sooner rather than later.
Be There to Talk
Whether you have a friend who has been diagnosed with an illness, or you’re concerned about a family member who is showing signs of either physical or mental health issues, it’s beneficial to try and open up channels of communication. When we feel scared, anxious or afraid, we can close up, even though talking can make us feel better. Start the conversation and proceed gently. Don’t try and push too hard or move too quickly. Encourage your friend or relative to open up as and when they feel able to, and make sure they know that you’re always there. Sometimes, people want to have deep conversations that enable them to get thoughts and feelings off their chest, while in other cases, it can be refreshing and uplifting to have a laugh and forget about what else is going on.
Many of us have friends and family members who are going through a tough time as a result of illness. When the people we love are struggling, it’s natural to want to help as best we can, but it’s not always easy to know what to do. There is no guidebook or instruction manual, but trying to understand the problem, helping loved ones to find support and offering a shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen can all be beneficial.