No one wants to receive a diagnosis that there will be intense pain somewhere in the body for the rest of their lives. Whether that person is you or you love the person who has a difficult road ahead, your life will change.
At first, there may be a time of grieving, knowing that he or she will no longer be able to do the things they once loved. There must be time to come to grips with this reality and unfortunately, your spouse may make you the brunt of their frustrations and worry. Pray for help to be patient and to have compassion for them.
Your spouse will need to make some changes around the home that will allow them to function with less difficulty. You can help create spaces that will ease the burdens placed upon them. Also know that within these changes, there may be times of depression that are going to bring a raincloud over your home. This is less about your relationship with your loved one than it is about them learning to deal with their new normal. Seek heaven’s help to understand your partner’s needs.
It may be tempting to hire someone to come into the home to do it all for them but please be thoughtful and communicate with your spouse. Though they may not be fully functional, they still want to feel useful and be able to have a purpose. I asked several people for their insights regarding dealing with chronic pain. One of them said, “I think the best thing people can do to help is to realize when I am struggling and give me the space I need to complete the tasks at hand without taking over.”
Most people want to be useful and not become a burden to others. Help them to find success in the small things and celebrate the things they can do.
There are actions which are most certainly not helpful when your loved one is struggling. From my inquiries, I learned that impatience is one of the most harmful ways to deal with someone who is struggling. These precious souls are already on edge about what they cannot accomplish so there is no need to make it worse. Knowing that help is needed and not acting is hurtful. Treating someone like they are going to break or answering for them when others inquire about their health is not helpful.
It may feel like you need to be a mind reader to deal with these circumstances but that is not so. Pray for the discernment that the Holy Ghost can help you to see or know when to help or when to take a step back. The Lord loves you and your spouse. He knows the physical pain and the emotional pain that you will both suffer at times. It is He who reaches out with enduring love to heal the broken hearted, the emotionally weary and who strengthens those who must bear their painful burdens.
Elder Robert D. Hales spoke about his experience after having major surgery and experiencing debilitating pain. He said, “I have come to understand how useless it is to dwell on the whys, what ifs, and if onlys for which there likely will be given no answers in
mortality. To receive the Lord’s comfort, we must exercise faith. The questions Why me? Why our family? Why now? are usually unanswerable questions. These questions detract from our spirituality and can destroy our faith. We need to spend our time and energy building our faith by turning to the Lord and asking for strength to overcome the pains and trials of this world and to endure to the end for greater understanding… Pondering the things of the Lord… brings about a tremendous feeling of gratitude for our Savior and for the life and blessings He has given us.” 1
It is up to each one of us to turn to the Lord for strength as we face the difficulties in our lives, whether our own or those of our loved ones. We can do all things through Christ which strengthens us. (Philippians 4:13)
1. “Healing Soul and Body”, Elder Robert D. Hales, General Conference, October 1998