Too often in the traumatic brain injury community, our peers and family want to be supportive but are going about it the wrong way. There are things we hear daily that we just don’t want to hear, no matter how touching or genuine they are. So, in light of education being a top priority here at TryMunity, we thought we’d blog this month about the things we actually want to hear. Rather than put up with statements that end up hurting more than helping, we aim to educate our circle of support on words of encouragement we actually want to hear.
Realistic Statements Go A Long Way
When any of us approaches a patient or sick family member, we often say things like, “feel better soon!” or “you’ll make it through!” However, those are statements that only touch the surface level of the impact of TBI. Instead, patients and survivors want to hear more realistic statements. Some words we might suggest you say to your peers living with a TBI include:
“This really sucks.” – Although this is pretty casual and frank, it doesn’t beat around the bush. It doesn’t have a sort of unrealistic optimism. Instead, this phrase tells patients that you get it. You understand that they have it tougher than everyone around them. And that…just…sucks.
“Let me go get you something to eat.” – Sure, this sounds ridiculous, but hear us out. This phrase actually names a task you can do for the other person. You’re not saying something intangible like, “let me know if you need any help.” When someone offers something like “help,” they may genuinely want to. But, they are putting it on the patient to reach out. That’s an added burden on top of everything else.
“Can I take you to your next doctor’s appointment?” – Again, this seems simple, but it is really taking away responsibility from the already-burdened patient. This phrase allows peers and family to help effectively and not just create the idea of help. This physical act can make a world of difference for someone whose physicality is limited by a TBI.
Make a Difference, Not Just a Statement
When you aim to help a patient or person living with a TBI, the key goal is to make a difference. Words of encouragement can only go so far. Acts of encouragement speak volumes. For tips on how to effectively support your friend or family member with TBI, reach out to us here at TryMunity. Our goal is to be that resource you and your family need to make it through.