Staying Connected to Friends & Family When You Have a Serious/Chronic Illness

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Staying connected is very important.

You can easily become isolated leading to loneliness and depression when you have a serious/chronic illness. Especially if you’re disabled so therefore unable to work. Especially if you’re an empty-nester or don’t have children. Or if you’re single or live alone.

It can be extremely challenging to stay connected with friends and even family when you have health issues, I know, as I have a serious chronic illness.

Losing friends and relatives when you fall ill

So many friends as well as family members will drop you like a hot potato when you get sick and stay sick. You lose friends and family and it stinks and hurts big time but you find out who your real friends are. And that’s a good thing. No one needs fair weather friends, we all need real friends. One real friend is far more valuable than a dozen fair weather friends. We need friends who will weather the storm with us, those who abandon us when the storm hits, well, we’re better off without them.

Now that we got that out of the way, it’s very important that we stay connected to our real friends and relatives. We’re all busy so we need to make an effort to reach out and invite them to meet in person.

Making Connections 

When my kids lived at home, I made and stayed connected with friends through homeschool, my kids’ sports and their other activities.

Then I retired from homeschooling with my youngest son graduating and lost the in-person connections with my homeschool friends. On top of that, I lost my mom and I became an empty-nester.

I had to make a real effort to see friends and family.

Facebook is a great resource to stay connected to friends and family but we need face-to-face, in person contact with them as well.

Don’t wait for your friends and family to do the inviting – do the inviting yourself!

Start a bunco group, crafting group, book club, etcetera, with your friends! Invite them through Facebook, text or call them!

Facebook has a wonderful feature called ‘Events’ where you can evite/invite friends and family or you can just invite on your timeline.

When my son was in kindergarten, before we started homeschooling, several moms and a couple dads met the first day as we were dropping our littles off. One of the moms had the fabulous idea to invite everyone to Starbucks! Several of us went. That first day, most of us were meeting for the first time. We decided to meet at Starbucks every Wednesday after dropping our children off at school. Those Starbucks mornings led to lunches and dinners, camping trips and boat trips, super bowl parties and baby showers, birthday parties and play dates for our littles. Our husbands and children became friends! Amazing friendships grew out of it – almost two decades later, most of us are still very close! Those friends would visit me in the hospital and bring meals when I was too sick to cook. They would pick my kids up from school when I couldn’t. We’ve moved to other areas, but stay connected through social media and see each other as often as we can!

So on the first day of school, do what my dear friend did: invite everyone to Starbucks!

I also made wonderful friends through my ‘Mothers of Twins Club’ and other social clubs.  Many of whom are still dear friends!

I don’t live near those wonderful friends anymore but we stay in touch and I’ve made more wonderful friends where I live now. I joined a ‘Moms Club’ which has long since dissipated but most of the friends I made all those years ago are still my dear friends. One even helped me get my blog up and running! Over mochas at our local small town coffee house!

I also made dear friends through the aforementioned homeschooling. We try to meet for lunch or breakfast once a month and some of us get together more often! For coffee or lunch. Free concerts and movies in the park in the summer are a favorite activity!

My wonderful moms club friends, homeschool friends and friends I made through my sons’ sports and activities, have also visited me in the hospital, provided meals and helped with my sons’ care and activities when I was unable to.

Other resources

If you don’t have children as a wonderful and built-in source for meeting people, there are other resources such as ‘social clubs,’ ‘welcome clubs’ and ‘meet-up groups.’ Google them for your area. They are a wonderful resource for meeting like-minded people in your area. They have activities for every interest imaginable: fishing, cooking, crafts, quilting, music, bird watching, etcetera. You meet people who share the same interests!

There’s also ‘meet-up apps!’ Check your App Store!

I’ve joined a couple social clubs. One is like Girl Scouts for adults! It’s a fun evening or afternoon with friends once a month! You could join or start one in your area! (Contact me for info)

Church is another great place to make friends.

Reaching out 

I make an effort to make new friends and connect with old friends. I reach out to them and invite them to coffee, tea, lunch, froyo, concerts and movies in the park, etc.

I literally post to my Facebook news feed asking friends to meet for lunch, etc. I usually get at least one yes each time! Try it! I also use the Events (evite) Facebook feature.

It’s very important for those of us with chronic health issues to spend time with friends and family. Isolation and loneliness leads to depression which is an extremely heavy burden on top of chronic illness. Depression makes it so much more difficult to manage our health issues: take our medications, exercise, nourish our bodies – to maintain our health. So reach out to your real friends and family! See them as often as possible.

Inviting friends over is great but it’s also really important for chronically ill peeps/folks to get out of the house when we can!

Venting about your health issues

When you’re spending time with friends and family, it’s best to avoid the health-issue-hardship-venting. If the friend is curious about your health issues, explain the basics to them, give a brief update of your symptoms, then move onto other subjects – ask them about their latest vacation, relationship, school, work, etc. Ask them about their health. With very few exceptions, venting about the hardships of your disease is usually best done in support groups. Of course, there are a few exceptional friends who you can really vent to about your health. But personally, I don’t usually want to talk about my health-issue-burdens when I’m out with friends – I want to enjoy my time with them! I want it to be a break from my health issues. I want to talk about anything but health issues! I do my venting in my online support groups for the most part.

My challenge for you!

I challenge you to post on Facebook asking friends and/or family to meet you for coffee, tea, lemonade, lunch, froyo, or whatever your heart desires! Do it often!

For summer time family connection ideas, go here!

For more info on coping with chronic illness, go here.

For tips on raising a family when you have a chronic illness, click here.

For invisible illness info go here.

♥️ Enjoy!

Photo Credits: Chawn Peterson, Cinde Hagelberg, Cheryl Ann Cox and myself

Author: cconlowolsen

I'm a mom with a background in nutrition, teaching, child and human development, photography, health, travel, outdoors, animal rescue, mentoring, business ownership, cooking, navigating traditional health care and alternative health care, writing, and more. I have a chronic illness I've been managing for decades while raising a family, homeschooling my kids and enjoying life to the fullest. I want to share my experiences both good and bad, to help others!

10 thoughts on “Staying Connected to Friends & Family When You Have a Serious/Chronic Illness”

    1. I have 2 very close friends with chronic illnesses. One has cancer and the other has fibromyalgia. My friend with cancer lives in another state, so it’s impossible to get together in person. But we have email “conversations” every single day. We talk about everything under the sun…except health issues. My other friend is physically unable to go out many times, but we do go out when she’s feeling up to it.
      I’m bi-polar and sometimes it’s difficult for me, too. We love each other dearly and have maintained our friendships for 48 and 12 years, respectively. It’s not difficult to make time for those you care about.

  1. Glad I stayed on you! You were always the writer! I was the lucky recipient in North Dakota!
    ❤️ & 🍀

    Love,
    Always & forever!
    Chawn

  2. I don’t have a chronic illness, but I am definitely a homebody and can be shy about meeting new people. The reminder to just invite people to do things is big! I wonder how often other people I know are sitting at home, wishing they had someone to hang out with, but I haven’t invited them out?! These are great tips. Thanks for sharing!

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