My dear friends,
Every time I sit down to write a post to you, I feel such affection for you! Loving and supporting a chronically ill person is heart-breaking and requires a lot of patience. Today, I want to talk with you about some of the ways you can bless your Lymie loved one. Are you ready?
- Try to understand what they’re up against. Lymie people need to know that you really care about this hard thing they’re going through. Lyme is devastating, and even if they’re handling it well… they need to feel known and understood. A possible question you could ask is, “What’s it like to be you?” You could also do your own reading on the subject of Lyme, as well as other materials related to supporting a person who is sick.
- Understand that “how are you” is a difficult question to answer. I used to get a “deer in the headlights” look when someone asked me how I was doing. I wasn’t sure if they really wanted to know or if it was just the standard greeting. The truth is that I’m almost always a mixture of emotions because my life can no longer be summed up in a ONE-word answer. I’ve found that I can answer, “Some things are really hard, and some things are really good”, and it still feels genuine and true. BUT it took me a while to figure out that I could say that. By all means, still ask your Lymie friend how they are doing, especially if you have time to talk about it. If you are just in passing, though, I’d suggest a different greeting… “It’s so nice to see you! It always makes my day!” is always a wonderful thing to hear.
- Say / send encouraging words. Just the words “I’ve been thinking about you!” can mean so much to someone who is hurting or feeling lonely. Lymies, like all people, have a basic need to feel known and loved. It’s hard to feel “known” when you’re sick, because it’s a part of you that no one else experiences… Therefore, many sick people feel lonely. Sending a “I can’t wait till I see you next” or “I was remembering that funny time we did…” can mean so much.
- Offer your help / support. Lymies need tons of help. They may fight it, but they do need it. Offering your help over and over is such a blessing. I’ve relied upon my friends for meals, rides, prayer, emotional support, etc… It has been one of the things that has kept me sane. I love feeling like I have tons of people who I can call, and even if they can’t help, I know they want to! I don’t have to beat my head against the wall to make my life work, because I have people in my corner. Your Lymie needs to know that you’re in their corner too.
- Be a “couch-buddy”. Lymies don’t just need help. They also need to be surrounded by friends. Often, they won’t have the energy to go anywhere, so offering to be a “couch-buddy” takes the pressure off of them. My Lymie mentor and I often have “couch-buddy” days. We have an understanding – I come over, and we talk if we feel like it, and if we don’t… we have a movie marathon. As a Lymie, having someone who is willing to sit on the couch with you and just hang out is the best!!!
- Include them in what you’re doing. Lymie people need to look forward to things, and they certainly want to be part of what is going on in your life. So, invite them to everything that you would if they were well. Birthday party? – Invite! Walk-a-thon? – Invite! Camping trip? – Invite! They may only have a 5% chance of being able to come, but they will feel thought of. They will feel included! And while you’re at it, make it as easy as possible for them to come. Offer to drive them, or if it’s a potluck, let them know that even if they’re too tired to make something, you’d still love them to come if they’re up for it… That their presence is the real gift. They will feel so loved and encouraged that you are thinking of them this way.
- Forgive them / Have grace for them. Let me be frank… your Lymie loved one is going to bumble around and be awkward as they’re getting used to being sick. They’re going to forget important things. They’re going to have bad days. Understand that when things go awry, it’s not a statement about how they feel about you. It’s a statement that their life is turned upside down. They need to know you’re a safe person, that they can bumble around and you will still love them. They need forgiveness for their mistakes, and they need grace as they learn how to “be sick well”. If you can do this, you will have the best kind of relationship – one of unconditional love and gratitude.
- Get ready for the long haul. Many, if not most, Late-stage Lyme patients do not get “ahead” of the disease. That means that it’s likely they will keep getting sicker… for years or decades. I know this sounds depressing, but I’m trying to be a straight-shooter with you… This is a likely picture. My dear friends, your Lymie loved one is most likely scared that you will grow tired of being kind, understanding, or helpful as the years go by. As much as you can, make it your goal to communicate that you are in this with them… that you will be in the trenches with them. And then do it! It will be hard, but it will make your life and your Lymie’s life so much richer. There is such beauty in a relationship where you stick together in the good and bad. This is one of the ways that we get to be like Jesus… by proving to our hurting Lymie loved ones, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.”
I hope this gives you some ideas of how to be with your Lymie loved one. We’re all learning together. Feel free to comment below with your favorite ways of serving your Lymie!