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While Thanking A Veteran, Let’s Think What Words Comfort Us From Loved Ones

Today is Veteran’s Day, and as I drove my car to my physical therapy appointment, I listened to the commentator interview several veterans on what people have said to them to thank them for their service for our country.

They discussed what thank you means to them, how it makes them feel and what they prefer to hear.

It made me think of all of us with MS.

Lately, I’ve noticed several people posting on the Facebook thread of on what to say to a parent/friend/child who has MS, such as:

  • What should I say to them about being diagnosed with MS?
  • How can I let my mother know I’m there for her no matter what happens?
  • Why won’t my son listen when I tell him heat is no good for his MS?
  • How can I help my wife deal with her anger and frustration at her disease?

Unfortunately, there are no stock answers to these questions.  MS affects all of differently, and each person handles it in his or her own way.  Like the soldiers listening to the words of a grateful nation, patients with MS have their own listening preferences as well.

I know a girl who was diagnosed several years ago. She received her diagnosis and had no choice but to begin several medications, including steroids, to alleviate her symptoms.  Once she became stabilized, she resumed her life as it was before her diagnosis.

She also denied she ever received a diagnosis of MS.

Her employer reached out to me to speak with her.  We set up a meeting, and I listened to her tell me her doctors were wrong in their evaluation of her disease.  She insisted she did not have MS.

I told her to give one more doctor a try in finding out the cause of her recent physical complaints (numbness, visual, dizziness).  I told her to reach out for emotional support via support groups or her church group, and to research and learn all she could about MS in case her complaints did turn out to be MS.  I added that I would be more than happy to help her in her journey.

She smiled, thanked me, and left.  My advice fell on deaf ears.

Over the past 26 years of living with MS, I’ve learned a lot about what people prefer when asked for help, and what I like to hear from loved ones. So here is a list of what I’ve learned.  Perhaps it will give you an idea on how to help someone when you are struggling to find the right words to say:

  • I heard you have MS (it’s not a good idea to say, “I’m sorry you have MS”) and I’m here to help in any way I can.
  • I will always love you, and I will always care about you for the person that you are.  That will never change.
  • Do you want me to go with you to your doctor/therapist/infusion (etc) appointment?
  • I’d love to come over and spend some time with you.  I can bring some dinner so we’ll have more quality time together.
  • Are you feeling tired today?  Can I get you some groceries/drive your child to a soccer match/walk your dog/help you in any way?
  • I’m sorry you have to cancel our plans tonight.  Let’s make it for another night.  Do you want to schedule something now or later?  I hope you feel better soon.
  • Do you want to talk about what is troubling you?  I am a good ear and you can trust me. I am here to listen.

Educate yourself about Multiple Sclerosis. has valuable information for anyone interested in learning more about MS.  Be compassionate, available and patient at all times.  Above all, try to understand that MS changes the physical part of a person, but not the essential part of who he or she is.

Everyone is simply struggling to find his or her new place in the world with MS. The more you know, the better you can help your loved ones.

What words do you like to hear from loved ones?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • ydress
    6 years ago

    I was diagnosed with MS almost a decade ago and we have had to deal with a lot of health problems with our only child too.
    I stopped working 9 years ago and now it’s hard for me to drive on all the new medication, side effects, mood swings and forgetfulness.

    I used to be your typical A personality, workaholic, social alcoholic, money making/spending, materialistic, keeping up with the jones and always getting attention kind of person.

    I would have to say, illness changed me for the better. It made me slow down, learn to relax and see life with new eyes. I have now been able to experience what is really important in life. When you have good health you have wealth, unfortunate only people that loose it, realizes it.

    What I liked to hear before MS, is very different now with illness. I have been with the same man for 26 years. I know it has to be hard for a man to marry a healthy woman and now has to live life with a woman with MS. It truly takes strong people to stay together through sickness. I am blessed with the man in my life. He truly deserves less struggle in his life with his wife!

    The comments I would like to hear to make me happier-

    1. Good morning with a hug and Good night with a kiss
    2. Have a good day, LMK if there is anything you need, I’m a call away.
    3. I would like to spend time with you, LMK what time works for you?
    4. How is your energy level today? LMK me know what you need. (especially early evenings)
    5. I would like to take you to a movie at this time, LMK if you are up for it.
    6. This is what we are doing today, if you are not up to our busy schedule, LMK if there is anything I can do for you before I leave?
    7. I know your spine bothers you daily especially in the evening, LMK if there is anything I can do to give you relief?
    8. You have done so much for our home and us today, LMK if we can do anything for you.
    9. LMK what time we can go for a walk together to spend time and talk?
    10. I see your fatigue is not allowing you to do what you want, LMK if I can do anything for you.

    There is a pattern to what I want and need to hear. Let me know is very important to say to a person with MS. I do not like making many decisions now however I do like my opinion to matter and my voice to be heard. I am the type of person that will ask for what I want and keep it simple with what I need. I am happy with choices made for dinners, movies (not animation), going out on a date and spending time at home together. I like the time to be taken to talk to me, not rushed and not making me feel that there is not enough time, that stresses me out. I need life to be slower around me when they are talking to me or hanging out with me. I can no longer handle being rushed and having someone do two things at once when they are with me.

    I’m only ask for kindness & patience with this unpredictable illness, new medication, side effects, mood swings and slowing down around me.

    I have had to learn to live a slower relaxing life, in a very fast competitive city we live in. Not an easy and harder to learn.

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