“I know how hard you’re trying.”
It can be VERY frustrating for an arthritic sufferer to try numerous modalities to relieve their pain and to see them fail. It can be even more frustrating to deal with the same unpleasant disease every day and try to hold it together emotionally.
Trying won’t get you first place in most sports competitions, but in the journey of chronic pain and disease, giving your best effort should be commended. Although having someone reassure you that you are trying your best won’t change the course of arthritis, it is still very helpful to have your efforts be acknowledged.
“Instead of doing that, maybe we could try this?”
Although this one is a little vague, it is my personal favorite to hear from the people in my life. I like my loved ones to help offer solutions when the physical limitations of arthritis make certain activities challenging.
Fortunately, my wife is an expert at this; it is easy for me to look at a situation and feel down because of my physical limitations but she does a great job of coming up with possible alternatives to overcoming the solution. For instance, even though I can’t play pickup basketball with her or my friends, she makes sure I still get on the court to shoot hoops or play a game of horse.
Even if the options suggested aren’t viable, it means the world to me and other arthritic sufferers, because by offering solutions you are showing that you have observed the situation, are empathetic to the problem, and care enough to try to help them through it.
Sometimes the best thing you can say is nothing. A lot of times I and other arthritic sufferers just want to know that you are there. A sympathetic ear and hug can be all that is. There have been times where I have unloaded feelings of stress, anger, sadness, frustration, on a loved one not because I expect a miracle or for them to change the situation, I just want someone to acknowledge that it is hard, remind me to stay positive, and let me know that they are there for me.
The severity of arthritis pain can be made worse when those around you say inconsiderate things. On the other hand, empathetic and caring statements towards arthritic sufferers can make all the difference.
When interacting with someone with arthritis, demonstrate understanding and empathy towards their struggle. All of the supportive phrases mentioned above have the theme of acknowledging the difficulties a person with arthritis may experience. They also help to validate the arthritis sufferer and let them know that they are not alone.
Living with physical limitations on a daily basis can be extremely hard, but having people around you giving you support through their words and actions can make coping with the condition much easier.