Tips for Talking with your Loved Ones about your Injury

Tips for Talking

Tips for Talking with your Loved Ones about your Injury

How do I talk with my friends and family about what happened to me?

Talking about difficult events, injuries, and the thoughts and emotions related to them can be difficult. It may seem scary or uncomfortable to open up to your loved ones about what you experienced or are continuing to experience. Maybe you are afraid that they will not understand or that they will dismiss your feelings. Or you may be concerned that you’ll worry them too much. Or, maybe the idea of talking about the event at all is intimidating because the memories of the event are so distressing.

Despite the challenges, there is good news - good communication strategies can help you to express yourself and can help your loved ones to better understand what you are going through. Also, you can talk with loved ones about the impacts of the event without having to talk about the details of the event itself. The more they understand your situation and your perspectives on it, the more helpful they can be during your recovery. Below are some tips to help you communicate with your loved ones.

Setting the Stage

  • Take time to think about the benefits that will come from talking with your loved ones about your injury, even if it is a difficult conversation.
  • Find a time where you are unlikely to be interrupted. Trying to squeeze the conversation in between meetings at work or while running errands may add to the difficulty. Do your best to be sure that you have the time and space you need to communicate, and your loved ones have time and space to ask questions and respond to the thoughts you share.
  • Choose the people who best support you. Not everyone in our life is supportive when we need help. Some people may be too stressed, and others may simply not know how to be supportive during stressful times. But most of us have people we can contact for support. Some will be people very close to us, such as a spouse, parent, or close friend. Others may not be a day-to-day source of support, but are there when we need them. Think about who will be most helpful during your time of recovery, and reach out to them.
  • Pick a place you feel comfortable. Whether talking to your loved one in person or virtually, make sure that you are in a space where you feel physically comfortable. If you tend to experience pain as a result of your injury, try to position yourself in a way to minimize discomfort.

Having the Conversation

  • Set your goals and be as clear as you can about your needs. Consider what your intentions are in talking to your loved one. Are you simply looking to “get things off your chest?”
  • Are you needing additional support, emotionally or practically? Thinking about what you want from the conversation can help you to decide what to say and how to say it.
  • Let your loved one know what you are looking for, and make sure to be as clear as you can about this. Oftentimes, people don’t like to see others having a difficult time and are eager to problem-solve, but this may not be what you need. If you only need to get things off your chest, let them know that you really just need them to listen and be there for you. Or, if you are seeking more active support, let them know that too - that you need someone to talk through medical decisions with, to do fun activities with and provide a distraction, or to assist with meals and childcare until you recover. Whenever possible, be clear and specific.
  • Understand that you may need to educate them. While most people are well-intentioned, they may simply not know how challenging your experience and injury have been. Consider these examples: they may not be aware that you are in pain, of the effects of your medications, of how tired you feel if you are not sleeping well, or of how foggy your thinking is. Rather than assuming that they understand or becoming defensive, try to explain your injury and what you are going through. It may be helpful to provide resources so they can learn more.
  • Put your feelings into words. Though it can be difficult to verbalize some of the things you are thinking and feeling, your loved one may not know you are sad or frustrated unless you are clear about your feelings. Being clear about your feelings will also help your loved ones to understand what you are going through and to not take it personally if you have an outburst in a moment of frustration.
  • Be willing to accept help. You may feel uncomfortable receiving assistance, but accepting help is often a sign of strength and self-awareness. It is okay to accept help, and having a way to help you during your recovery will likely help your loved one feel much better. 
Click here to read about setting boundaries with your friends and family