How To Love Someone Who Is Struggling

By Nicole Gustafson| January 21, 2020

It is amazing how tough situations can make basic human interaction so pure and real. I’ll never forget the feeling of sitting alone in a hospital room, wondering if MALS would make my life crumble.  I was afraid of how long it would take me to bounce back. I worried I wouldn’t be able to. It wasn’t until people who loved me walked through the door that I realized I would be alright.

There are so many kinds of love! There’s parental love, romantic love, friendship love, companionate love, and more.  Then there’s the kind of love given to and received by people who are ill or struggling. It is not easy loving someone with a chronic illness or mental health struggles, because you end up riding the roller coaster right along with them.  You experience our pain, our joys, and our struggles, and often there’s nothing you can do about the “real” thing that’s causing our problems. It’s hard to love someone who is struggling, but it’s also true that what you’re doing is so, so important. You may not be able to take away our sickness or pain, but you can continue to love us for who we are, and to me, that is the best medicine.

At times, it can feel like illness puts limits on the best parts of our lives.  It takes away our health, can hijack our moods, and can crush our freedom to live life the way we want.  Despite the negative aspects, illness also has the ability to open our eyes to the experiences and people that are meaningful to us. Usually, we let so much get in the way of spending time with people we love. We allow school, work, distance, and so many other responsibilities take priority.  One of the wonderful powers that illness has it that it blurs all of that into the background and brings to light the things that are truly the most important; the love we have for one another.

I’ve learned that the people who support me with their unconditional love are the ones who mean the most to me. It is amazing how tough situations can make basic human interaction so pure and real.