How to Speak with Someone in Chronic Pain

People often feel awkward around people with chronic pain. Here are some suggestions on how to speak with someone in chronic pain.

The next time you are talking with someone in chronic pain

– physical, emotional, spiritual – here are a few options for you to consider:

1o what you can to connect… for real.

The experience of isolation in chronic pain suffering can lead to utter hopelessness. Do what you can to bridge this gap as compassionately as possible.

You have entered a no bulls**t zone.

People in chronic pain can spot bs a mile away. Please be sincere.

This space is also a no-pity zone.

Compassion is warmly welcome. The pity is soundly rejected. The subtext of pity is, “I see you from above.” The subtext of compassion is, “I am meeting you where you are.” Remember that you are going for connection here rather than inviting any sense of rejection.

Look them straight in the eye.

Meet their gaze and hold it.

Take care of how you connect.

The potential for grabbing onto a codependent relationship exists in such vulnerable isolation.

Be present.

And stay present, no matter how uncomfortable you may feel. A chronic pain sufferer spends more time remembering their past and fretting about their future than staying in the present moment. They need the reassurance of your steadiness here, saying that it is indeed safe to be in the present.

Tell them how much you appreciate having them in your life.

Hold space for them.


Ask permission before you touch them.

Their sense of safety has been threatened, so they are on high alert.

Be supportive and encouraging rather than judgmental.

Speak to their soul, not their condition.

Ask them if there is anything you can do for them

… and mean it. Then make sure to follow up.

Keep your visit, whether in person or over the phone, limited.

Your visit is welcome and so helpful. Remain aware of the subtle cues that the person in pain is tiring. Pain is an energy zapper, so sufferers tire more quickly. You may not get a request to leave from them because they do not want to offend you in any way. Just be aware of the time and how they are managing. While social visits are healing, they can also be taxing if you overstay your welcome. Make a graceful, loving exit so they can rest again.

Tell them you love them

… and make sure they take that in.
How to Speak with Someone in Chronic Pain

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