Help for Spouses of Chronic Pain Sufferers: How to Empathetically Love

In my Tweetdeck I have a column that pulls up every tweet that uses the hashtag: #ChronicPain. I saw a tweet that caught my eye and led me to the blog: A New Kind of Normal. Today they had a guest blogger and the title of the post is When Loved Ones Hurt. In the very good article is a list of 5 ways a spouse can empathetically love their spouse suffering with chronic pain:

  1. Don’t assume: that old saying rings true! Assuming what your spouse can and cannot do because of their chronic pain is hurtful and unproductive. I would find myself constantly telling Kris to be careful or not to do something. I know I was annoying him on a daily basis. He is a grown man and knows his limits; he doesn’t need me bossing him around. Of course, my concern comes from a loving place; however, being supportive and letting your loved one live as normal life as possible is key.
  2. Work as a team: I know that it hurts Kris to rock our little man to sleep so I step back and let him get bonding time during playtime, feedings and changes. If there are several things to do around the house, I always try to do the things that I know are painful for Kris. That way, we are splitting responsibilities but he is still taking care of himself.
  3. Give emotional support: On Kris’ bad days, I know he feels really low. I think that being there as someone for him to talk too really helps. Sometimes people with chronic pain undoubtedly suffer from effects other than the pain, which may even include depression. Make sure to talk to someone before YOUR frustration turns into depression or anxiety.
  4. Communicate & Remember: I used to find myself getting upset or frustrated when I felt like I needed more help. Like I mentioned above, Kris is really good at hiding his pain so sometimes I would wonder why he was just sitting there on the recliner, not wanting to play or get out and do something. As soon as I realized he was having a bad day or was having a day of high pain level, I instantly felt my anger melt away.
  5. Above all, love: I know when Kris’ injury was aggravated; it was a big blow to him. He loved the Army and having to retire was really hard on him. Sometimes simple tasks are no longer simple. Self-esteem can also be an issue on bad days. Remember to show and verbalize your love and give encouragement.

I have also am linking again to my 10 Commandments of Communicating with Chronic Pain Sufferers. You may download it free (pdf) and print it off and distribute as you would like.

Chance to Interact: What would you add to this list? What have you found that works in communicating with a spouse in their suffering?


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