The Best Words for Family of a New Amputee

Posted on: November 3rd, 2015 by JPO Blogger

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Words matter. As a caretaker, your words will matter most when your loved one is at their most fragile. Phrases meant to encourage may have an opposite effect if they’re mistimed or misinterpreted. In honor of National Family Caregiver’s Month, we recognize the hard work you do and suggest you trade these common inspirational phrases for words that really help you say what you mean:

“I know how you feel.” But you don’t. Limb loss is a permanent, life-altering experience, one that’s unique to every person. Express empathy and interest by asking them to put their experience into their own words, which allows you to show support through active listening.

Try instead: “I can’t imagine everything you’re going through, but I want to try. Can you tell me about it?”

 “This could have been so much worse.” A phrase like this can easily come across as “you’re being ungrateful.” While you’re thankful they’re surviving and headed towards recovery, they’re weighted down by loss, frustration, and the fear of an uncertain future. To show support, don’t dwell on hypotheticals and acknowledge that it could be the worst thing they’re facing.

Try instead: “While I’m glad you’re still here and healthy, I’m sorry you have to go through this to be that way.”

“Here, let me do it.” While your loved one will depend on you post-operation, they’ll want to regain independence in daily tasks as quickly as they can. Let them. Give them a sense of control by asking them to delegate help when they decide they need it rather than hopping in when you think you do.

Try instead: “You do what you can. Tell me when and how I can step in.”

“It’s time to start moving forward.” Your perception of “ready” may be lightyears different from your loved one’s. Though they may need a nudge if they’re resisting change, their opinion is the one that ultimately matters. Encourage them to begin their road to recovery by asking them to create goals that they see as signs of progress.

Try instead: “I know what you’re capable of and don’t want to see you get stuck in a less-than-best version of yourself. What are you willing to try today?”

You have their best intentions in mind. ­­Now put the best words in your mouth. For questions about caring for your loved one in a way that’s best for both of you, give us a call today. We’re here for you.

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