The 10 Commandments for Communicating with Chronic Pain Sufferers; Pt.2

Yesterday we read through the first 5 Commandments of Communicating with a Chronic Pain Sufferer. Today are commandments 6-10.

  • Thou shalt give HOPE by your helpful questions
    • What is a helpful question? A helpful question is a question that is specific in nature, or open-ended to allow a full response, that indicates you truly understand what the CP sufferer has said, or are interested in learning more about what they have said.
    • Have you ever asked a CP sufferer to rate their pain? They do it for doctors all the time – they can easily do it for you. Ask the CP sufferer about how they are sleeping. Are they having difficulty concentrating? Observe and inquire about their mood. (do they appear depressed or irritable)
    • Have you asked a CP sufferer if they are satisfied with their treatment? Don’t just suggest treatments to them – find out how they like / dislike their current treatment / doctors. Ask them if they feel their pain is bearable. When we are asked the right questions, we feel as if we have permission to discuss our pain with you.
  • Thou shalt not be DESTRUCTIVE in what you say
    • Christians are good at this when they have nothing else to say.
      • Remember, All things work together for good!
      • Remember, life is a vapor, it will all be over soon!
      • No pain, No gain!
      • Have you sinned or something?
      • or, Well, you don’t look sick
    • Statements such as these and other similar quips only will make me feel worse and do absolutely nothing to help me in dealing with my CP. 
    • Can you ask me sometime, “How have you survived this long”? Let me talk to you about the goodness of God and his grace in the midst of my weakness. It allows me to remember that there truly is a God who is in charge and who cares for me in the midst of my hurting. It gives me HOPE.
  • Thou shalt be COMPASSIONATE
    • If you desire to communicate at length with someone suffering from CP, it will mean that you will have to put away your cares, your busy schedule, and your needs. It will be an act of love to reach out and minister well to those who are hurting. It will require compassion. It will be hard.
    • It will also be worth it. Compassion extended encourages healing.
    • I don’t want your whole day. I may just want 5 minutes to just let down my defense and pull back the curtains of protection and let you see what it’s like to be me…to live with CP. If you respond in compassion, it would be incredibly beneficial.
  • Thou shalt RECOGNIZE that you don’t know all there is about Chronic Pain
    • You’d be in good company – neither does my doctor
    • Sometimes it is hard to see someone hurting and not know how to help them. I hope this 2 part series goes a long way to helping people move forward in their ability to communicate with those who suffer. Nobody likes to hurt, and most people don’t like to see people hurt.
    • Sometimes it becomes so tempting to offer any platitude (see commandment #7) in a feeble attempt to “just do something”. No matter your intentions, those platitudes won’t help.
    • Sometimes just acknowledging that you don’t know what it’s like to suffer, or be in pain, or that you don’t know the answer to help means more to the CP sufferer than if you tried to do something. Many times we just need Commandment #1 (LISTEN)
  • Thou shalt UNDERSTAND that pain is not what you think it may be
    • Do some extensive research on pain and pain management and you’ll find that the medical community has really morphed their understanding of what pain is and how it manifests itself.
    • Pain is not merely physical, but psychological and neurological. This means that pain can be mental and emotional as well as physical. Pain is not limited to physical injury or deterioration.
    • When you see someone who is suffering from CP and it doesn’t appear to you that they are physically injured, it is very tempting to not believe what they are saying. Neurological experts are now coming to understand that there doesn’t even have to be an external factor for a patient to suffer from CP.
    • Psychologically the temptation to respond to CP is to be afraid. To fear that it will not go away, that it will inhibit life in some way, that it will be financially extensive to treat, and on and one. Pain represents a very real hurdle to my identity, my ability in ministry, in relationship and in recreation. When this pain persists, the fear easily can morph to anxiety and depression.
    • When someone becomes depressed they tend to show less emotion (not always but the tendency is there) and as a result they do not appear to be in pain. As we have discussed, pain is difficult to translate into words and that makes it harder for you, the listener, to understand what the CP sufferer is experiencing. So you need to understand that pain is very complex and unique to the individual.
    • Also, my CP symptoms may not be the next persons symptoms. Pain is unique to the individual and it is different for everyone.  Pain may vary as a result of genetics, personality, maturity, history, etc. It is impossible for you to truly know what pain a person is going through – but you can be a helpful listener to the CP sufferer.

Chance to Interact: Which commandment did you find the most useful? Which one do you think needs reworked?

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One thought on “The 10 Commandments for Communicating with Chronic Pain Sufferers; Pt.2

  1. Pingback: Destaques On-line da semana – n.1/agosto 2011 « Conexão Conselho Bíblico

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