What other things NOT to say to those who are suffering

Written By: JoJoisms - Oct• 06•14

Silent Pain framed

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29

Two weeks ago, I shared with you the worst thing to say to a believer who is suffering. Telling a believer they don’t have enough faith and that’s why they are suffering does more damage than you know.  But that isn’t the only thing said that can frustrate and sadden someone who is struggling with chronic illness or difficult issues.

Here are some more…

“You don’t look sick”

When said to someone who is worried about their looks during an illness, this can be a comforting thought.  However, if said to someone suffering what is referred to as a silent illness, what you’re saying to them is, “it’s all in your head.”  Since they have been told this probably for many years by friends, family and even doctors, it fills the sufferer with frustration and depression as they fear their suffering will never end because nobody can even identify the issue, let alone solve the problem.

“Buy my stuff…”

One of the issues with posting about your chronic illness or other struggles on social media is that it is filled with people who are online in order to make a living just looking for opportunities to talk about their products and services.  Some people are at least considerate enough to say they’ll pray for you or tell you they are sorry you are struggling.  However, many will simply skip the pleasantries and get right down to business.  Instead of taking the time to build rapport in a private message, most will post their website link directly as a comment on the post ensuring that all those who have replied that they, too, suffer from this condition will be sure to see it and have it emailed to them as a notification.  Don’t be that guy!

“Try this; try that…”

Most people dealing with chronic issues have had a loooong time to contend with their struggles.  Chances are they already know about your idea/product, have tried it or are not able to make it work for them.  If you have had pain for 35 yrs, rest assured you have already tried aspirin, soaking in a hot tub, and putting your feet up.  If they post that they have been researching new ideas for 5yrs, you can be certain they have picked up a thing or two about Fibromyalgia as it’s been in the news for a very long time.

“You’re just a hypochondriac; there’s nothing wrong with you.” or “Don’t you want to feel better?” or “You aren’t willing to try things that will help you.”

If they say they have dietary restrictions, please don’t be shocked when they say they can’t eat that. Also please don’t accuse them of not wanting to get better just because they didn’t take your unsolicited, UNexpert advice.

You have a poor attitude”  or “You shouldn’t complain.”  or “You should be more positive.”

Telling someone they have a bad attitude about struggling with something for a long time is like pouring salt on a wound.  I would wager that EVERYONE who struggles with long term issues has a bad attitude at some point.  If they are sharing their struggles with you, they probably have hit a low point and need some support.  Lift them up for heaven’s sake!  Most people with chronic illness or financial struggles feel embarrassed to talk about them with most people.  If they have chosen to disclose their suffering to you, they must trust you.  Don’t abuse their trust by telling them they should just pick themselves up by their boot straps, put their big girl panties on and move on.  By the way, in order to pull yourself up by your boot straps, you will need to sit down and rest.  Otherwise the boots won’t move.  Be their place of rest so they can move on.  Don’t put your hand on their head and push them down deeper into their boots which are currently in a twisted mess beneath their feet.

“Others  have it worse than you do.”

While this is almost certainly true, knowing that someone was eaten by the lion doesn’t seem a comforting thought when you are nose to nose with him yourself.

“I’m tired/sore/broke…too.”

When someone with Fibromyalgia says they are in pain, they don’t mean to imply that they are a bit sore from working out for a week.  When someone with Hashimoto’s Disease says they are exhausted, they don’t mean they need a nap.  When someone who is struggling to find the money to pay bills says they are broke, they don’t mean they can’t buy the purse they want until they get their next paycheck.  Don’t compare your minor struggles to someone’s debilitating and life altering conditions.

I remember when my dh and I were desperately trying to juggle our bills.  We were behind in just about everything, had called all our creditors to ask for a payment plan or delay.  We rolled pennies to buy gas.  We drove 90 minutes to the grocery store because it was the only place that took credit cards so we could afford to buy groceries for our family that week.  We had friends who lived in a huge house their parents gave them as a wedding present.  It was paid for in cash and was in a very nice neighborhood.  In response to our disclosure about our financial struggles they said, “Yeah. We know what you mean.  We’re down to our last $10,000 in the bank.”  Somehow that knowledge was less than comforting to us.  When someone struggles with something for a short time, their resolve, their faith, their positive outlook, and their resilience is probably still in tact.  Over time those may be luxuries they can no longer afford.  Don’t shatter what little they may have left by dismissing their suffering as a mere inconvenience.

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29

This week was all about what not to say.  Next week I’ll share what you can say that will be a blessing and can uplift those who are suffering with chronic illness/issues.

If you’ve suffered with chronic illness or financial issues, please share comments people made that were not helpful or even hindered you.  Please share your experiences as a comment below.

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  1. Right on, Jo Jo. I have fibromyalgia and lupus, and although I’ve been doing super for the last year or so (better than super actually…finally!!), I know all to well those days when it all goes crashing down. I hate to commit to anything because I never know how I’ll feel when I wake up that morning. I’m sure you know that feeling.

    The worst of it is well meaning friends or family who say things like, “You’ll feel better to just get out of the house” or “you need some mommy time” (In response to me saying no to a hang out night)…the truth? Uh, no I won’t. I’ve finally gotten to a spot in my life where I better understand what lifestyle things trigger me more than others, and “hanging out”, “girl time”, and all of that junk usually means I’ll have a bad morning tomorrow. It’s super frustrating that people can’t respect that. I had to explain this again recently that one of the reasons I think I’m doing better is because I’ve learned to say no. I’ve gotten people angry with me. I’ve lost a few friends. However, I’ve had to figure out, finally, that if I don’t protect my health from those things I know set me down a path to flare up, I will be in bad shape.

    People trying to sell me their probably good for me supplements and stuff bug me too. I can’t wave enough magic pixie dust on the situation to come up with the money their wonderful product requires. We had one of those “rolling pennies for gas and groceries” sorts of weeks recently.

  2. Tanya says:

    Thank you JoJo…good words to hear

  3. JoJoisms says:

    You are welcome, Tanya.

  4. JoJoisms says:

    Oh, Kimberly! I understand. I’m praying for you financially. We were like that for over 27yrs of marriage, but are now in a much better place. I’m so happy you found a place of health that is so good–even though you need to be careful to keep it. I pray I’m in that place soon.

  5. Betty P says:

    Thanks for this posting. I suffer from chronic pain, depression among other issues. It seems like my pain and depression go hand and hand. On those times when my depression was bad, my husband suggested to spend more time reading the Bible. It made me feel, like he thought that I was going through all that, because I was a crappy Christian or something. It only made me worse, even though he was only trying to help.

  6. JoJoisms says:

    I completely understand that, Betty. We know that sometimes people are only trying to help, but I wrote this so that they could do that in a more effective way. Whether it’s our husband, our friend or a family member, they just don’t always understand. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  7. […] week, I shared what not to say to someone who is hurting.  I’ve posted things like this many times as articles or in answer to a question online.  […]

  8. […] things that friends and family communicate to us can make our struggles more difficult, but there are things we can communicate to ourselves […]

  9. Zaiya says:

    Hey, that’s poeurfwl. Thanks.

  10. JoJoisms says:

    Thank you, Zaiya. I pray it helps many of my readers and their families/friends.

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