The Most Loving Thing You Can Do for Someone With a Chronic Illness

Suffering from a chronic illness is hard!

Throughout my journey with chronic Lyme Disease, I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing chronic illness warriors. The people I have met may have different backgrounds and experiences, but there is an underlying thread that binds them together.

chronic illness support for friends and family

Those with chronic illnesses often share that they feel misunderstood by the people around them.

Even those with strong support systems may feel like the healthy people in their lives just can’t quite comprehend the pain they experience.

Being unable to relate to our friends and families can leave us feeling discouraged and misunderstood.

For anyone out there who cares about someone with a chronic illness, I want to let you in on what I truly feel can make all the difference in being able to better support the chronically ill.

The most loving thing you can do for someone with a chronic illness is to BELIEVE THEM.

Maybe this sounds simple to you, but it can make a world of difference for someone who feels like others don’t understand.

When you believe someone, you are choosing to hear what they say about their experiences and take it as truth.

Don’t question it or think they’re just over-exaggerating. Don’t assume that it’s not as bad as they say it is. Choose to believe what they say about their pain because they are the one who is experiencing it.

The Most Loving Thing You Can Do for Someone With a Chronic Illness

I spend a fair amount of time on chronic illness forums connecting with others who are in a similar place as I am. My heart continually breaks as I hear stories of friends and family members of the chronically ill who don’t choose to believe the best about the person. They don’t take the sickness seriously. Sometimes those who don’t believe them are their spouses or parents. This often leaves the chronically ill feeling lost, helpless, and alone.

I’m fortunate that when my health took a turn for the worst, my boyfriend Jonathan believed me. My parents and siblings were a little slower to understand but they eventually came around.

Had Jonathan not believed me and encouraged me to seek answers, I am not sure what kind of shape I’d be in today. This is why I’m passionate about helping shed light on the reality of Lyme Disease and other chronic illnesses. Education and understanding are essential for our support systems to truly act as sources of support.

In order to learn about the illness, the friends and family of the chronically ill need to start with believing the person. The person who is sick also has the responsibility of being honest and sharing what they are experiencing.

Belief spurs action, which is why I feel strongly that the most loving thing a person can do is to first believe that the illness is serious.

From there, once they believe and begin to understand, they will be better able to lovingly support the person in their life with a chronic illness.

The best examples of belief spurring on action can be found in the Bible. Over and over again, we see examples of how belief in God and Jesus Christ led to action.

One of my favorite stories is found in Matthew 9 when a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched the edge of his cloak. “She said to herself, ‘If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.'” (v. 21, NIV)

“Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ he said, ‘your faith has healed you.’ And the woman was healed from that moment.” (v. 22)

The woman believed that Christ could heal her, so she took a major risk by reaching out for him. Because she was bleeding, she would have been regarded as unclean. In Jewish law, she would have had to be free of bleeding for seven days before being considered clean. Since she had bled for twelve years straight, the woman would have been an outcast in society. She wouldn’t have touched Jesus’ cloak it if she didn’t think that he had the power to heal her. She knew there was something different about him. The woman had believed and had faith in who he is.

When we have the facts and we know something to be true, it changes how we perceive the world around us. Just as the bleeding woman’s faith spurred her to action, believing that a loved one’s chronic illness is serious could spur one to action as well.

To anyone out there who is not sure what to do to be supportive of their chronically ill friend or family member, just start with listening to them and believing what they say about their illness. From there, you’ll be able to notice how you can help. They need your love and support and will appreciate anything you can do for them!


Chronic illness friends and marriage

18 thoughts on “The Most Loving Thing You Can Do for Someone With a Chronic Illness

  1. Thank you so much, Emily! This is so true. I think believing a loved one is an important way of loving and respecting them, knowing the loved one well enough to know that they are being honest with you. And it’s not a hard thing to do.

  2. Hello Emily. I came across your message on Pinterest. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis. I was looking for some tips and some help for myself. Because I have to keep moving, I have very few people in my life who actually believe that I have this autoimmune disease. It hurts that I feel like I have to defend myself, especially when it comes to family and friends. I go through most days without my pain meds because I’m raising two of my grandchildren. My best friend, who is a nurse, told me once that she wished she could move as good as I do. I just looked at her and thought that she, above all people, should know better. She’s ten years younger and has just started feeling the signs of arthritis. I’m sorry about the rant. Lol I really intended to thank you for what you do for so many others. I appreciate your encouragement and feel so blessed that God lead me to you. I will be keeping you in my prayers. God bless you, my warrior sister.


    1. Hey Cindy! I can completely understand. Especially when we don’t have a choice but to keep moving, others just don’t realize what we’re going through. So glad we’ve been able to connect! Praying for you today!!

  3. Hi Emily! Thank you for your posts about your journey through chronic illness. You have put what has been on my mind for years in print. I have battled with Lyme Disease for 15 years (half of my life) and was recently diagnosed with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome too. I have battled the scepticism of my condition from family and friends. Thankfully, most of my family believe that my pain is real now. My husband and I are in the process of relocating to an area that is more suitable for a stable lifestyle. It is so encouraging to know that we are not alone in our journey. Thank you for conveying what so many of us feel on a daily basis! I pray that your treatments help and that this valley will soon be a distant memory!

    1. Hi Hannah! Thank you so much for reading and for your kind words of affirmation! I’m sorry that you’ve also felt the pain of skepticism from friends and family, but I’m very glad to hear that most of your family now believes the pain is real. I hope that the relocation will be helpful for your getting to a place of stability in your health. Praying for you as well as you continue on in your journey! Praying that God would continue to meet you where you are at and provide the comfort and healing you need!

  4. Emily, thank you for this. As a pastors wife and cancer survivor it’s so good to hear these words. So often those around don’t “look” ill but need to be seen and believed. Niki (visiting from H*W!)

    1. Niki! So glad you stopped over – I always love seeing your posts in H*W!! Thank you! Yes. The outer appearance does not even begin to show what’s going on beneath the surface.

  5. Very good post. As believers at times we want to pray and expect immediate healing on this side of eternity. When it does not happen, the problem must be the fault of the one in pain. Chronic pain is even worse because nothing is visible. I have friends who suffer from various forms of Chronic pain. I pray I am the patient one who still prays and asks for healing but supports the person in their present walk. Blessings to you Emily.


  6. Hi Emily…nice to meet you! Encouraging words from a Christian are always appreciated…I am also a believer! My chronic illness is rheumatoid arthritis. I’ve had it for about 4 years now. My son had Lyme disease as a child age 5. He wasn’t treated properly by his pediatrician, so I had to get adequate care from a pediatric infectious disease specialist. After a month of antibiotics, most of his pain was gone. He’s now 34. It is imperative for anyone to be believed. I agree with your stance on being educated in your disease process too. We can aid each other in many ways. I’m an RN. I still enjoy learning and sharing with others too. Thanks for your blog!
    Laura Weymers

    1. Hi Laura! Great to meet you, too! I’m sorry to hear that you have RA. I have several friends who have had really rough experiences with it! Your son is definitely one of the lucky ones in being treated with antibiotics for a month and getting better. I’m glad you got adequate care elsewhere when his pediatrician didn’t treat correctly! I know others who had a round of antibiotics relieve all of their symptoms, but unfortunately for those who weren’t diagnosed right away, we have a harder time getting relief. I’m thankful for the way the internet connects people so we can learn from each other in different ways! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. :)

  7. I am going to post this on my page. I hope my family and friends will read it. You write beautifully ?

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