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Talking to Family and Friends about Chronic Illness Fact Sheet

So you've gone to your first therapy session and you're wondering how to talk to your family and friends about what it is that you've been experiencing mentally and emotionally. Here are a few tips to assist you in conversing with your support system and communicating your needs.


Gather information and resources to offer them.

Ask your medical provider for suggestions about what/how to tell them.

Provide concrete information based on qualified medical facts.

Explain any medical terms or confusing explanations.

Keep it simple.

Use age appropriate language for children.

Talk to children of different ages and developmental stages separately.

Encourage family members to attend appointments or informational meetings to learn more.

Expect people to react differently and allow them to work through their feelings.

Let people know that you realize they will need time and space to process this information.

Encourage people to find a counselor or support group to help them cope with their feelings.


Overwhelm people with too much detail.

Be surprised if people need support and comfort.

Think that it is your job to comfort others when you are also struggling with your emotions.

Expect everyone to be on board with the recommendations – they also go through the stage of adaptation, including shock and denial and bargaining.

Be surprised if some family members and friends avoid you; they don’t know what to say or do.

Ask for or expect support from people who don’t have it to give – this only makes it harder for you.

Discourage people from feeling their own feelings of loss.

Be afraid to tell people that you can’t offer support at times when you don’t have it to give.

Feel guilty about taking extra time for self care and emotional/spiritual nourishment without including family or friends.

Need help coping with chronic illness? Contact me for additional resources!


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