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How to Hug A Zebra: A Guide to Supporting Someone You Love with EDS

Chronic illnesses such as EHlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS) can be a challenging journey, not just for the person experiencing it but also for their loved ones and caregivers. Knowing how to communicate and offer support effectively is crucial in such situations because too often illness causes a breakdown in relationships. Here are some essential tips on how to better support and communicate with someone facing a chronic illness:

1. Show Empathy and Understanding: Instead of dismissing their struggles, acknowledge their challenges and offer your support without judgment.

2. Validate Their Experience: Express belief in their condition and the difficulties they face. Let them know that you understand and are there for them- even if you don't really have a clue. Compassion is key.

3. Offer Practical Help: Simple gestures like helping with chores or running errands can make a significant difference when they are struggling with fatigue or pain.

4. Avoid Hurtful Comments: Be mindful of what you say and avoid phrases that may come across as dismissive or insensitive. For example, refrain from saying things like "It could be worse" or "You're probably just stressed out".

5. Listen Actively: Sometimes, all they need is someone to listen to them without offering advice. Show that you are there to support them emotionally as well.

6. Be Patient and Understanding: Understand that their condition may limit their abilities and plans. Show understanding if they need to cancel or change plans due to their health.

7. Avoid Unsolicited Advice: Instead of suggesting remedies or treatments, ask them how you can best support them. Respect their autonomy in managing their health or learn more about it yourself.

8. Express Your Care: Let them know that you are there for them, even if you are unsure of what to say or do. Your presence and support can mean a lot during their challenging times. And hug gently!

Remember, every individual and every relationship is unique. It's essential to communicate openly and ask for guidance on how best to support your loved one with a chronic illness. Anyone facing a health scare or long-term diagnostic journey just wants to feel normal again. Imagine what you might need if you were int he same situation.

If you need more in-depth additional guidance on what not to say and how to say it better, read Dear Loved One, an ebook from Christie Cox on fostering supportive communication during a health scare or longer-term chronic illness.

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