Living with Chronic Pain

Dealing With Disappointment


Disappointment occurs when hopes or expectations are unfulfilled. Not only can disappointment affect those with chronic pain, but it can also have an impact on their loved ones' lives. Despite knowing the struggle is not the person’s fault, frustration due to their chronic pain can occur occasionally.

What leads to disappointment?

When an individual has chronic pain, they are not always able to be present at important events for their loved ones. For example, a sudden flare-up could prevent them from attending their spouse’s company holiday party, or pain and fatigue may cause them to miss a friend’s baby shower. This can lead to disappointment for the spouse, another family member, or a friend.

Disappointment can be a normal reaction

Feeling disappointed at times is normal. In most cases, family members and friends look forward to having their loved one with chronic pain at their important event. However, disappointment may occur because pain keeps their loved one from attending the event, leaving them to go alone or cancel altogether. This reality does not meet the expectations for the event, which leads to discontentment.

Don’t take it personally

Do not take it personally when an individual with chronic pain is unable to attend an event or has to cancel plans. It is not a reflection on the loved one or the relationship. It is simply a byproduct of the fact that chronic pain can be unpredictable and can prevent people from doing what they would like.

Admit disappointment

It is okay to admit to disappointment, but let the individual with chronic pain know that it will not put an end to the relationship. They are likely struggling with their own disappointment, guilt, or frustration, and they need the support of their loved ones. Be gentle and understanding when expressing feelings.

Make other plans

Whenever possible, alternate plans should be made for a later date when the individual is feeling better. This could include having a cup of hot chocolate and watching a movie after a missed event, or scheduling a different time to meet with a mom-to-be to shower her with well-wishes or a gift. Making other plans will help ease the feelings of disappointment and strengthen the relationship.

Additional source: Good Therapy

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