When a person is diagnosed with an illness, one of the first realities they must integrate into their daily lives is that illness means that the daily tasks of life do continue. Even when ill, people are called upon to continue with everything – parenting, professional obligations, household management – and all the rest. It can bring a person to their knees.
Give InKind spoke with Lisa Mark, CPO, and Maureen DeGarmo, founders of Illness Warriors, an organization whose mission is to provide assistance to people facing illness. In particular, they offer special expertise in the field of mysterious or invisible illnesses. These illnesses present as a cluster of chronic symptoms that cannot be definitively diagnosed, or illnesses with uncertain time frames. (When one thinks of examples of emergent illnesses they are abundant – Lyme Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, PMDD are examples of illnesses, challenges or conditions that were once upon a time dismissed).
Illness Warriors works to provide effective organizational assistance to people in need. Rare or undiagnosed illnesses create all the same burdens as other illnesses – but oftentimes, necessary support does not follow.
Lisa reminds that calling their “tribe" is necessary when a loved one is ill. The ill person should also take steps to understand that they cannot do everything alone. They must understand that finding a way to ask for help is appropriate and advised.
For those members of the extended support network, do find ways to offer concrete assistance. Maureen reminds that people aren’t always comfortable answering open-ended offers of assistance with specificity. (“Let me know if you need anything," for example). Those wishing to offer support can offer to help with specific tasks such as childcare, groceries, household chores, pet care. (“Can I take your daughter to dance class on Saturday?").
Lisa and Maureen explain that vulnerable people may wish to guard their privacy. She calls on support networks to remember to offer assistance that is non-intrusive – bringing mail in, shoveling snow off of a car, yard work and etc.
Do ask questions. Do listen well. Do lend a hand. These kindnesses matter much more than we realize.
For More information, please visit Illness Warriors.
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