Loved One in Denial?

By Jarely Meza

Some of us have been in the situation where a loved one has experienced a health problem, a sickness, addiction, or recent medical diagnosis and they are too stubborn or proud to admit this, let alone ask for help. As care partners we feel that it is our responsibility to push them to get help – to remind them about setting up an appointment, or to even try and convince them to go see someone about their situation.

Often someone who may be in denial will push away the reminders or would say “yes I’ll do it” and they never do. Usually when this happens we feel frustrated, because we did so much for them to just push it aside. This can start the feelings of wanting to give up, losing hope, or “throwing in the towel” as some would say. It’s difficult to keep going and to keep pushing, but I feel that as care partners we shouldn’t give up. We should find ways to help them understand and accept their situation.

Someone in denial is someone with a barrier around them. They feel scared, depressed, anxious and worried. They believe that having that barrier would protect them; it will keep them safe from hearing bad news. We need to try to understand them – to be patient, and most importantly, just be there for them. Because once they let that barrier disappear they will need support.

The number one priority to helping someone in denial is to show you want to understand and ultimately help them try to accept their situation. To do that, you will need to do your research, educate yourself and gather information.

Typically, when you say to your loved one, “you should get checked out/evaluated” or “you need to follow up with a doctor” their response would be, “what if it’s nothing” or “you’re overreacting” and “I’m fine.” By responding back with facts and information it may help them realize that you’ve been educating yourself and can offer some helpful input for their circumstances, and that it may help to see someone. Once they accept and understand this I believe reassurance helps best. Letting them know that you will be there will help them move forward and know that they are not alone.

Being a care partner is not easy. Having a loved in denial is one of many things to deal with. That doesn’t mean you need to give up. Remember you are not alone, find support for yourself and your loved one. Taking care of yourself is as important as taking care of someone else. Being a care partner may have its hardships but most importantly it is a big blessing for those we care for.

*Jarely is our newest Client Services intern volunteering her time here at MSAA. She is pursuing an associate degree in the Human Services field at a local college in the New Jersey area. She hopes to continue her education studies in the Social Services field to help individuals in need of assistance. Jarely enjoys learning new things and applying her education to new situations.

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The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) is a national nonprofit organization and leading resource for the entire MS community, improving lives today through vital services and support. MSAA provides free programs and services, such as: a Helpline with trained specialists; award-winning publications, including, The Motivator; MSAA’s nationally recognized website, featuring educational videos, webinars, and research updates; a mobile phone app, My MS Manager™; safety and mobility equipment products; cooling accessories for heat-sensitive individuals; MRI funding; My MSAA Community, a peer-to-peer online support forum; MS Conversations blog; a clinical trial search tool; podcasts; and more. For additional information, please visit or call (800) 532-7667.

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