3 Questions & 3 Answers about Guilt and Chronic Illness

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Guilt and Chronic Illness 3 Ways to Beat It

Dealing with guilt and chronic illness (UPDATED)

Did you ever stop and think guilt and chronic illness? Of course being sick is not your fault. There is nothing that can prevent being diagnosed with an illness. And you can’t make a cure instantly appear. We would, if we could. So, we’re innocent.

Being sick with a chronic illness is not like having your tonsils out and getting extra ice cream. There are no benefits. Trust me: a handicapped parking pass is not fun when you really have difficulty walking. And if it the pain is not enough to steal the fun, there is always the way people look upon you for using the parking pass or the guilty way that makes you feel.

3 Questions about Guilt and Chronic Illness

  1. When do I feel guilty about having a chronic illness?
  2. Why feel guilty when it’s not our fault?
  3. What can I do about this guilt?

Guilt and Chronic Illness Answers

1) When do I feel guilty about being sick?

Here are some examples of times guilt and chronic illness get me down. When does guilt get to you?

  • I feel guilty when my children miss anything that they would have had if I didn’t have RA. I hate the fact that I can’t make their lives as perfect as I want to.
  • I feel guilty when I think of how much my healthcare has cost my family. I hate to realize the things we could have done for ourselves or others with that money.
  • I feel guilty when I notice how little I am able to do now for my friends and neighbors or the church. I hate that RA has made it so difficult to live out the person that I still am on the inside.

Guilt and Chronic Illness: 3 Questions & Answers

2) Why feel guilty when illness is not our fault?

I do not think we should feel guilty about things that aren’t our fault, but I can certainly see how it happens. Feelings are usually the result of thoughts. Whether what we think about is true or not, feelings are still produced. Personally, some of the unconscious thoughts I have about my RA are not very sensible, like the ones I listed above. Is it logical to blame myself for the cost of healthcare? Or not giving my kids a perfect life?

But, keep reading – I don’t think we’re just stuck with guilt and chronic illness.

3) What can I do about feeling guilty about chronic illness?

Maybe we’ll always have weak moments with guilt and chronic illness. However, we can fight back against adding guilt to our suffering. Here are three ways to fight guilt.


Sometimes it helps adjust our feelings if we think about the facts. The facts are on our side. For example…

  • The fact is, when it comes to my kids, it’s not my job to make their lives perfect. And my having RA might not necessarily make their lives worse.
  • When it comes to the money,  I am sure that if someone else in my family were sick, we would sacrifice whatever we had to for his/her healthcare.
  • My last example is about the restrictions imposed on me by RA. I miss being able to bake pies or Christmas cookies – or even bring homemade soup to a sick friend. I miss it and it is hard, but the truth is that there are other ways to express kindness to loved ones


Friendship is good medicine. Friends accept who you are, including your limitations. Friends who also have chronic illness understand that support is needed. Whether they are sick or not, true friends encourage you to let go of misplaced guilt.


You’re fighting the disease and fighting for every bit of life that you can. And when you fall short, which you will, forgive yourself with the same grace that you would forgive someone else.

 More things to not feel guilty about with chronic illness

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 at 6:00 am and is filed under RA Education. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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