When a friend hurts, we gather around her. When she has surgery, we line up outside her door with meals. We send flowers, cards, and gifts. We provide childcare and, of course, prayers. Gradually she heals and is able to return to her every day life.
When a friend is diagnosed with a chronic illness the natural cycle of healing doesn't take place. What do we say? Do we encourage her to remain hopeful? Chronic illness is permanent and often degenerative, requiring her to change nearly everything about her life. The emotions that accompany these changes in her life are often more difficult to cope with than the pain itself.