Sunday, August 16, 2009


Loneliness and misunderstanding are the chronic companions of the chronically ill. They do not fit in because their bodies do not adjust to environments the way normal people do. They get upset over "nothing" because of the cumulative effect of an intolerable life. The "nothing" may not even be sensed by the normal, since they are normal. But "nothing," like toxic perfume, too much light, a food allergy, etc., is something real and painful to the abnormal.

The normal, so often lacking in empathy, may even attack the abnormal, since the chronically ill cannot be fixed and may not even benefit from one's good will. Changing someone's flat tire takes time and effort, but can be done. Making a chronically ill person happier is not the same. Good intensions often lead to bad results.

The normal may even exclude and marginalize the abnormal they supposedly wanted to help. The normal get frustrated when their brand of "help" doesn't help the abnormal. So, they turn on the subjects of their purported good will, thus further immiserating the already miserable.

What is the answer to this? There is no simple answer. The closest I can come to any advice is to lament with the lamentable, listen to their pain, find out what they think might help them, or be willing not to help, but simply be their friend, come what may. Then cry out to God to do something.


  1. Yes - "be willing *not* to help." That seems to be one of the hardest things. It seems like people get so frustrated with not being able to help that they pull away because of it. Ironic. I don't think they mean to, but it does often turn out that way.

    And crying out to God is all I've ever found - that, and "ever looking for the blessed hope." Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

    Thanks for writing. Always good to hear from you.

    Cathy Groves

  2. I think you're right. There is no simple answer, but it would make my life a lot easier if people would stop trying to tell me about "cures" for arthritis and just say they'll keep my husband in their prayers. It's like people have forgotten all about "Weep with those who weep. Rejoice with those who rejoice."