The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

ARTICLE: An Email for Moms with Illness to Send to Their Girlfriends


Can’t Keep up With Other moms? No problem!

I just had an article posted over at the How to Cope with Pain Blog at

It’s called “8 Ways To Encourage Your Fellow Playgroup-Moms Who Have Chronic Illness.” Since most people who will read it there are the actual mom with the illness and not the friend, I wrote an example email that could accompany the article and/or link in case people want to send it to their friends but don’t want to sound like they are telling them what to do.

I thought I would post it here to share too! Hope it’s a help for you!

To receive notification of other articles like this that are free to reprint, just sign up for my blog.

You can have them come to you via email.

Bless you,



Hi, gals!

Hope you all are doing well. I just read this article on a blog that I read called, “How to Cope with Pain.” As most of you know I live with (your illness here.) I know sometimes I am not able to be quite as spontaneous as I’d like to be an I’ve missed a few play dates because I’m not feeling well. I don’t want my illness to be a big deal or get any special attention, but I just love you all so much, I also don’t want you to ever think I am using my illness as an excuse to not do something. For me, it’s just a part of life. Not always fun, but I’m hanging in there.

Anyway, I saw this article called “8 Ways To Encourage Your Fellow Playgroup-Moms Who Have Chronic Illness” and thought it was great at explaining some of the things I experience. Please don’t feel like you have to change your schedule or accommodate the whole group to meet my needs, but I thought it might explain why some days when you say, “Let’s just walk to the park” I look at you like “You’ve got to be joking, right?”

Plus, I figure within our circle you probably know a lot of other people who also live with illness. I was surprised to hear that about 1 in 2 people in the US live with some kind of chronic illness or chronic pain. (There is actually an Invisible Illness Week in September that has theses statistics on their web site. Who would have thought?)

So I’m thinking this may be helpful if you have a sister or other friend or someone who lives with illness. Feel free to forward the article on.

Thanks again for being so special to me! Our play dates help me keep my sanity!”


8 Ways To Encourage Your Fellow Playgroup-Moms Who Have Chronic Illness

workpainThis is a guest article by Lisa Copen, the founder of Rest Ministries, which serves the chronically ill. She’s written a previous guest article here – one of my favorites – about gifts for those with chronic illness. I invited her to share some suggestions for moms with us today – I hope you enjoy Lisa’s wonderful article.

Mom-and-kid moments come in all forms – days at the beach, backyard BBQs, or kids’ reading groups at the library. These are all wonderful times to get to know other mothers and share in wearing out your kids, as well as to gain some understanding from other parents. But the number of women who live with chronic illnesses such as fibromyalgia (FM) and diabetes continues to grow, and the spontaneity of these fun activities is easily disrupted.

How many moms does this issue effect?

The National Fibromyalgia Association estimates that about 10 million Americans (and nearly 5 percent of the worldwide population) deal with symptoms associated with FM, one of the fastest growing auto-immune diseases in the US. When I recently went to an adoptive moms’ playgroup, 3 out of the 6 women had a chronic illness, just within this niche group. Both being aware of what a friend can and can’t do, and also acknowledging that some days will have different limitations and challenges, can make a significant impact in these moms’ ability to participate and feel comfortable with other mothers.

1. Ask what time of day is best for play-dates and activities

For someone with a chronic illness, timing will vary from season to season (weather can impact it a lot), and also from one illness to another. For some moms, mornings are good and afternoons are exhausting; for others it’s the other way around. Heat, combined with illness, can make it impossible for a chronically-ill mom to even be outside for long.

2. Be adaptable and don’t make her feel guilty if she must cancel plans

When you live with a chronic illness, you never know what may change moment to moment. For example, last week I just took a normal step, but it resulted in my knee being locked up for 4 days. Despite medication and therapies, all my plans had to be cancelled, and my husband tried to pick up the pieces of my son’s schedule while working from home.

3. Ask her to clarify what she’s comfortable doing

For example, you might say, “How far do you want to walk today?” and try to accommodate. Even though you can see the park from your house two blocks away, she may not be able to make it. Stairs may be impossible, so take the elevator with her. Walk at her pace, recognizing that she may have to take rest stops every few minutes, even though you’ve only walked 50 feet. Do her a huge favor and chase after her kids for a few minutes. Standing for longer than a couple minutes may also be a challenge. Despite the pain of walking, it’s better for me than standing. Even though the line at the carousel looks like it’s only five minutes, she may need you to offer to stand in line, and then let her jump in beside you at the last minute.

4. Be polite when asking questions about her illness

For example, ask, “What’s your greatest challenge?” Don’t tell her about all the cures you’ve heard for her illness, about the products you sell that could cure her, or about your mother’s aunt’s neighbor who has the same illness but still is able to raise five children and work a full-time job.

5. Remember that simple things may be difficult for her

For example, if you go to the beach, ask her if she would like to be dropped off while you find a parking spot. Many people can’t plop down on the ground, so bring a few lawn chairs, so she isn’t the only one 2 feet above everyone else. Sun and heat can bother her so she’ll need to find shade. Don’t expect her to carry 3 lawn chairs, a cooler and your 14-month old daughter, even though you can carry all that and the dog. You don’t want to make her feel helpless, and she doesn’t want a fuss, but be aware that she may need a few extra considerations.

6. Don’t presume that she can watch your children

Even if it’s only for 5 minutes, don’t assume she can unless she volunteers. Taking care of kids is exhausting, and caring for her own may be draining the little strength she had left. Plus, if your kids run out into the street, keep in mind that she may not physically be able to sprint after them as fast as you could.

7. Plan activities that she can be a part of

While you may love your stroller exercise group and mommy-and-me gym class, these may not be possible for her. Find out what types of things she likes to do and then ask if you can join her for these. Keep the activities under 2 or 3 hours – even though you may typically go to the zoo for 6 hours, understand that she may need to leave earlier than you. Don’t say, “A little more walking may do you some good!”

8. Lastly, offer genuine encouragement

Say the words to her that every mom wants to hear: “You’re an amazing mom, and I don’t know how you do it all. I truly admire your perseverance and strength.”

Get a free download of 200 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend from “Beyond Casseroles” by Lisa Copen when you subscribe to HopeNotes ezine at Rest Ministries. Lisa is the coordinator of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and host of Hope Endures Radio Podcast.


Thanks so much to Lisa for being empathic enough to offer these wonderful suggestions!

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