Things to Do/Not Do for a Woman in Chronic Pain

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93005_lifesaver_1Obviously we can say things that make a situation worse. Or we can say something that brings value, encouragement, insight or education. These words are fruitful, helpful. The same is true with actions.

 Our actions can degrade, deflate and discourage. They can make someone feel worse. Or like positive, well thought out words, our actions can add value, encouragement, insight or education to the situation. These types of actions are fruitful, helpful.

Below are some actions that are and are not helpful for a woman with chronic pain and/or illness.

Don’t Do These Things[1]

  1. Don’t baby the woman or swoop in handle her affairs without her permission.
  2. Don’t diagnose or give medical answers. Instead encourage her to seek professional, medical care.
  3. Don’t use labels. A woman is not the pain; she is a person with pain (a disease, condition or syndrome).
  4. Don’t let complaining be your main  bond. Don’t allow the woman to get into the rut of complaining.
  5. Don’t stigmatize, judge or blame her especially if you think her behaviors and/or poor health habits have led to the chronic pain. Be merciful and gentle and point the woman to God.
  6. Don’t help the woman begrudgingly. If you cannot help the woman joyfully, don’t help at all.
  7. Don’t share every cure you’ve heard of for her pain/illness. She’s probably already been bombarded with cures. Let her time with you be one of respite from that kind of talk . “If you must share something, mail the information to the person with a nice note and never mention it again.”[2]
  8. Don’t make the woman into a project.

 Do These Things

  1. Create a safe place for the woman to talk. This should be a quiet, secluded spot. Give her time to answer the questions and to express how she’s feeling. Validate her pain (physical and emotional). Don’t ignore her problems.
  2. Refer the woman to a professional counselor when needed. If the woman is depressed and/or needs to learn new coping skills, a professional counselor is the appropriate resource.
  3. Encourage the woman to find a support group. There are many secular and some christian support groups for the many types/causes of chronic pain/illness. If she feels overwhelmed, maybe you could offer to find the information for her.
  4. Provide spiritual input. See if she’ll host a Bible study in her own home. Offer her a devotional about pain. Or go through a short Bible study with her.
  5. Ask the woman if she’d like more information. If yes,  refer her to the appropriate books, community resources, websites and/or another woman with a similar issue who is further along in the journey.
  6. Encourage talking openly with family members and friends. Isolation is a common problem.
  7. Ask her if you can pray for her either right then or on “your own time.” Ask what she’d like prayer for – don’t assume that you know. Pray for her family since she is probably burdened about how her chronic pain/ illness is affecting them. Don’t use prayer as a time to lecture or prove a point. Also ask if she’d like a prayer partner from church.
  8. Send notes and cards of encouragement consistently. Buy a stack of cards and pre-address and pre-stamp them. Then every week or so send your friend a card. You don’t have to say anything fancy. Write something simple like, “I’m thinking about you today. Do you remember when we __________? That’s a special memory for me. I wanted to let you know you are still special to me today.” Or, “I’m proud of how you are handing your life. You inspire me to handle my life with more ___________.” You could include a comic, a joke, a verse that brings hope or a funny picture.

Action Items: What is one thing you will stop doing? What is one thing you will do today to be an encourager? Do you have any other ideas that would be helpful?

 “Ministering to a woman in pain needs to be real – meals, helping with the kids, cleaning her house – not asking, just coming over and doing it.” EK

Related articles

  • Words to Say/Not Say to Someone with Chronic Pain 
  • One Reason Why People Ignore Those with Chroinc Pain
  • 1 out 3 People Suffer From Chronic Pain
  • 4 Differences Between Acute & Chronic Pain   
  • Looking Fine & Still in Chronic Distress
  • Feelings & Thoughts Affected by Chronic Pain

  • [1] Numbers 1-6 are ideas from Debbie and Kathy, two women who presented their story in the Women in Pain 2  class January 15, 2009.

    [2]Lisa J. Copen, So You Want to Start a Chronic Illness-Pain Ministry. San Diego:  Rest Ministries Inc, 2002, p. 45.

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    Entry filed under: chronic pain, Learning, Main. Tags: , .

    What to Say/What Not to Say to a Woman in Chronic Pain Chronic Pain Brings Losses That Need Grieving

    7 Comments Add your own

    • 1. Sudeep  |  . at .

      Hey ,
      Nice thoughts .. worth reading .It is really hard for any one who is in pain , some simple things like just offering too much cures can make them frustrated.

      Healthy Regards
      Sudeep
      Blogging for optimum Health Care

      Twit me on @vdsudeep

      Like

      Reply
    • 2. Elizabeth Kaylene  |  . at .

      Hi, I read one of your comments on ProBlogger and “ran” right over here. I am a woman with chronic pain, and I’ve been to over seven doctors and none of them have figured it out. The last doctor I went to — a rheumatologist — suggested I see a therapist or psychiatrist. I have never felt so alone.

      I write about my chronic pain over at Scars Can Speak, and I cannot put it into words how glad I am to have found your blog. I’ll definitely be hanging around.

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    • 3. susan2009  |  . at .

      Hi Sudeep, I am now following you onn twitter. Thanks for stopping by.

      Hi Elizabeth, I am sorry about the docs you’ve seen and their inability to give you a diagnosis. From what I hear from friends and from what I’ve read, that is frustrating and makes them feel so alone too.

      Your letters of love program looks like a really helpful idea. I bet that your transparency (at Scars Can Speak) has helped others who experience similar pain/circumstances. I applaud you for your desire to connect and help others through their chronic pain and depression.

      I look forward to you “hanging around.” 🙂

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    • 4. Elizabeth Kaylene  |  . at .

      @Susan: It’s very frustrating. I mostly try not to think about it, because if I think about it too much I get completely overwhelmed.

      Thank you! It’s not always easy to write about my depression and chronic pain, but doing anything for Letters of Love is always really helpful to me. In a way it’s kind of therapeutic to reach out to others.

      I look forward to talking with you more. I am on Twitter, @lettersoflove, and I am following you. Have a great weekend!

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      Reply
    • 5. Michelle at Scribbit  |  . at .

      That’s an excellent list! I appreciate the helpful suggestions–sometimes it’s hard for me to know just what to do to help.

      Like

      Reply
    • 6. susan2009  |  . at .

      Hi Elizabeth, So now we are twitter pals or whatever the pc term is. 🙂 I understand about feeling overwhelmed. I also try to put it out of my mind – taking small steps towards what I can change/control and leave the rest behind. But I’m not sure how you’d do that with chronic pain. You must be very brave.

      Hi MIchelle, I also don’t always know what to say/do. I’m also appreciate of lists that give me such pointers – like your posts on manners.

      Like

      Reply
    • […] the very first post I read about what to do and not to do for a woman with chronic pain, I was hooked. From my very first comment, I was accepted with open arms. No one seems to mind that […]

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