How to be a good friend to someone with chronic illness.

How to Actually Be a Good Friend to Someone With Chronic Illness

Here are some tips on how to make your chronically ill friend not like you:

Never ever call them.
Don’t return their calls.
Say mean & spiteful things.
Never invite them to do things with you.
Never offer them help in any form.
Tell them how they should feel.

Really, don’t do those things to your chronically ill friend. Don’t do them to any living thing. Don’t ever be a nasty person.

Very few people would ever plot out moves to hurt a friend, but sometimes it happens anyway, even with the best of intentions.

Here are some ways you can help your friend:

Be there for your friend in any way they need you.
Go to support group meetings with your friend.
Offer to take your friend to doctor appointments or to help run errands. Transportation can be hard.
Help your friend laugh. Laughter is healing.
Learn about your friend’s illness. Ask how it affects her. It means so much.
Let your friend know you are thinking of her.
Be an advocate for your friend.

In my experience, the reasons I lost most of my friendships was fear. Here are some reasons fear is a factor in ending relationships with a spoonie:

1. The changes brought on by the illness have your friend feeling confused and helpless.

I had a friend who was scared of the hospital, and since I am there so often, seeing me was too much to handle. But really, former friend, you aren’t supposed to be comfortable in a hospital. Suck it up and go for a visit. I don’t like it there, either.

2. You don’t know what to say.

You don’t want to hurt my feelings, so you don’t say anything. Learn how to think before you speak. I appreciate honesty. Tell me you don’t know what to say. It’s way better than saying nothing, and all I really want is my friend there.

For now I am still working while juggling my illnesses. It is a Herculean task. I don’t always run after people who leave. Many times I don’t have the energy. Sometimes I barely make it in the door from work before collapsing. Literally collapsing. There are times I just have to let things evolve as they will. And sometimes the people who leave come back.

Some people were never really your friends or are just inexperienced. These people can’t, or won’t, believe what they don’t see — especially with invisible illnesses. Although, I don’t believe any illness is invisible if you take the time to look.

Remember that you don’t lose friends, because real friends can never be lost. You lose the people masquerading as friends, and you are better for it.

Have you lost friends since you’ve become ill? What is the hardest loss for you? Have you ended negative relationships in an effort to create a less stressful environment for yourself? Share your stories. I know we can all relate to this — you are not alone.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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