How To Get Through the Holidays with Chronic Illness

I wanted to give you a road map: How to get through the Holidays when you have a chronic, sometimes invisible, illness.

I started with good intentions, but I’m finding it difficult to find the words. I’m finding it difficult to come up with tangible things we can do to help us survive the Holidays while living with invisible illness. A check list of sorts.

The truth is: It is difficult this time of year when you are sick. The year is coming to a close, and as we think back over the year that has passed, we often times are left wanting. Thinking about what could have been if we felt better. Wishing we could have accomplished more. Wishing for health in the year to come. Wishing to experience the magic of the season as we have in years past.

But I think sometimes, it helps to tell the truth. I know there are others out there like me, and sometimes, it helps to know you aren’t alone in this mess. I think the first tip is just that: to know that you are not the only one out there that is suffering during this season.

We are here (online), at least, to support each other. Check out sites like inspire.com or patientslikeme.com if you haven’t already. You can find people from all over going through similar illnesses. Its true: we can find strength in numbers.

I read a blog recently: A Sorta Gift Guide for the Overwhelmed and Brokenhearted this Christmas. The author talks about a child waiting for a heart transplant, witnessing the death of her sister, and a baby born with a heart defect–among other tragic circumstances in the lives of the members of her church. Juxtaposed is the scene of the children singing Christmas songs in the front of the church. She chooses to highlight, in the midst of the struggles they are all going through, the fact that the children are singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” God Emmanuel–literally, God with us.

This brings me to my second point: we need to focus on the purpose of Christmas–to celebrate the fact that God did not leave us alone in our suffering, He came to be with us. This is what Christmas is about. Not to focus on our illness, but to focus on the fact that we are not left alone to suffer. That is what we should shift our focus to. That is the magic of the season.

As the author of the blog above puts it:

He withholds no good thing from us.

And the good things in life are not so much health but holiness, not so much the riches of this world but relationship with God, not so much our plans but His presence —

and He withholds no good thing from us because the greatest things aren’t ever things “[my emphasis].

Not so much health, but holiness. I love that.

My wish for us with chronic illness this Christmas is that we one, stay together, in person or in spirit, and two, remember that the good things in life are “not so much health, but holiness”.

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