Chronic pain is pain that has lasted longer than three to six months. Some have placed the transition from acute to chronic pain at twelve months.
Still, others say that “acute” pain lasts thirty days or less, and chronic pain is pain that lasts more than six months.
Subacute pain is in the middle- lasting from one to six months. A popular alternate definition of the term “chronic pain” involves no particular duration, describes pain that lasts beyond the expected time of healing.
If you or someone you know is suffering from chronic pain, you probably know that there are some things that you can say and some things that you absolutely do not say to someone who is suffering.
Loving Words for Someone in Chronic Pain
Being supportive of someone who is in chronic pain can be quite difficult. There is nothing you can do to ease their pain, and at times, it can leave friends and families of the sufferer at a total loss for words.
There are no magic words, of course, but there are some suggestions for things that you could say to help your friend or family member to feel better.
1) “You look great today- but how do you feel?”
Most of the time, a person who is suffering from chronic pain wants the world to see what they look like on the outside, not how they’re feeling on the inside.
However, this is a loving thing to say because you’re making a positive statement about them, but you’re asking how they feel- despite how good they look.
Also, ask something like “how are you holding up?” Both of these let them know that you acknowledge their pain and want to know how they are dealing with it.
2) “I’m headed to the store- is there anything you’d like?”
This is a loving thing to say because you’re already going to the store and can easily pick something up for them. You’re not hurting their pride by making a “special” trip for them.
3) “I can’t imagine how difficult this is! However, you seem to be handling it very well. You are so very strong!”
Though an individual suffering from chronic pain may feel weakened by the pain, a statement such as this will make them feel much stronger and more supported.
4) “I’m thinking of and praying for you.”
Instead of telling the person in pain to “pray” about it or “have faith,” you’re letting them know that you care and that you have good intentions.
5) Simply reflect back what they are saying.
For example, if they say “my back is hurting me today,” you say, “Your back hurts? That must be very difficult for you.” When you reflect back what they say to you, you let them know that you hear their pain, even if there’s nothing you can do or say to help- at least they know you’re listening.
6) “I can’t imagine how difficult this must be for you.”
There truly are no magic words- and unless you actually live with chronic pain, it can be difficult to know what they are going through. Making a statement such as this lets them know that you’re supportive of them without pretending to know or understand what they’re dealing with.
7) “I wish I could say or do something to ease/take away your pain, but I can’t. However, I am here to listen.”
Sometimes, listening without judgment is the best thing you can do. As I am sure you have heard, “sometimes the best thing to say is nothing at all.” Actually admitting that you’re at a loss and lending your ear is one of the most loving things you can do for a loved one suffering from chronic pain.
8) “Don’t feel bad if you must cancel. I totally understand and hope to get together with you when you’re feeling well.”
This lets them know that you’re concerned without making them feel bad about their limitations.
9) “I hope that you feel as good as possible.”
When an individual has chronic pain, the words “feel better” can be very frustrating. Most of the time, those with chronic pain don’t have “better” days. Therefore, this statement is much more loving.
10) “I just heard about (the latest “miracle” cure). I know that everyone is different, but would you like to know more about it?”
Those who have chronic pain tend to have lots of advice thrown at them by people who mean well, however most of it is unwanted.
They do a lot of research on their own and see lots of physicians, so chances are- they have already heard about it. If you ask them if they’d like to hear about it, you leave them the option to say “yes”, “no”, or even “not right now.”
Know that actions speak much louder than words, so it can be quite helpful to actually do something nice for your loved one.
Bring them a meal, offer to do a load of laundry or make their bed. Do something to help. However, don’t make a big deal about it.
Many times, someone with chronic pain may need help, but don’t want it due to a sense of pride or they don’t want to feel like they’re a burden.
So, in doing something and making it seem like it’s not a big deal, you’re able to help your loved one without making them feel guilty or hurting their pride
Keep in mind that sometimes the best thing you can say is those three simple words: “I love you.”