Everyone has that one person at their holiday gatherings that has no tact or asks rude questions. This is probably even more noticeable to people that have a chronic illness. We are used to having hard conversations with those relatives that just don’t know how to keep their opinions to themselves.
What Hard Conversations?
- “Well you don’t look sick” – This is one of the most inconsiderate statements that someone can make to someone that is chronically ill. Most chronic illnesses can’t be seen on the outside and are considered, “invisible Illness”. HOw I look doesn’t determine how I feel on the vast majority of days.
- “Shouldn’t you Try a New Doctor?” – Questioning treatment decisions that have been made such as choice of treatment or Doctor is really off limits. More than likely, a lot of research has gone into the selection of a Doctor and the treatments chosen. It is just a rude and nosey question.
- “What do you do all day?” – Assuming that someone is doing nothing because they are home all day is one assumption that should never be made. Most people that have Chronic Illness spend a large portion of their time dealing with health issues. Doing normal day to day activities like showering can take longer and require rest afterward.
- “Are you ever going to get a job?” – Well, that relative that speaks her mind really stepped over the line on this question! This one has much deeper meanings than just implying that you are lazy but it is also saying that they do not believe that you are sick. This is a demeaning question! I will remove myself from this person immediately.
- “Why isn’t your treatment working?” – This isn’t in itself a bad question depending on the context. I included it because it really doesn’t belong at a holiday gathering. Who wants to spend the holidays talking about your illness instead of focusing on the fun? I let them know that I will be happy to have a private conversation at another time.
How to Avoid the Hard Conversations
Sometimes the hard topics cannot be avoided and you have no choice but to listen. I usually start off my day by giving myself a pep talk about not letting people’s opinions get to me. This isn’t easy to do sometimes but it is normally the best way to not draw more attention to an uncomfortable situation.
If you can, move away from the person saying the rude things or asking nosey questions. This really depends on how formal your family occasions are. With my family, this is as easy as waiting for an opportunity and moving to another room! If there is a seating chart at your family holiday dinner, this might prove a bit more difficult.
What Not to Do
No matter how difficult it may be, do not retaliate or make a scene. This will only draw attention to the situation and give others much more to talk. It will cause other family members to choose sides and it can be hurtful to the entire family. This will ultimately cause you more hurt than the initial things that were said.
There will always be someone that asks or says things that should not be during a family gathering. It is best to ignore the statements and not to create a scene. Removing yourself from the conversation and trying to enjoy the holiday is always the best way to handle those hard conversations that can happen during the holidays.
For more tips on surviving the holidays, read the post 10 Ways to Pace Yourself During the Holidays.