Go to page content

Being the close one of a person with diabetes

The onset of diabetes is an event that can profoundly transform life in many ways. Diabetes is always present in one way or another, also affecting all of the relationships of the person with diabetes, including romantic and family relationships as well as those beyond.

As a close associate, it's important not to forget the aspects of your close one that have remained the same despite diabetes. Sometimes, a person who becomes ill or who has an illness may lose connection to these aspects of themselves, and diabetes can seem to take up too much space. As a close one, you can focus on supporting the person behind the illness.

Being close to someone with diabetes puts you in a key position to support their well-being and management of their condition. The foundation of support is openness and a desire to understand what living with diabetes practically means. Sharing thoughts is thus a central part of all relationships. It's also important as a close one to understand that diabetes is a highly individual disease and the experience of living with diabetes is always personal to each individual. Everyone also has their own individual way of relating to diabetes.

Especially in the initial phase of illness, it's good to give the person with diabetes space and time to define their own relationship with their diabetes and its management. Only the person themselves can truly know what diabetes means to them and how they can best find a balance with diabetes. In the beginning, being present without offering any particular solutions can be enough.

The life of someone with diabetes is full of surprises and sudden changes in direction, and they might, for example, find it difficult to know in advance if they can participate in a planned event. It's rarely because they don't want to go. If plans repeatedly fall through, it's worth discussing the situation openly. Are there specific challenges or concerns related to diabetes with certain activities? Is another activity easier to manage? Can you agree that you go with someone else?

When you have enough resources in your life, you're better able to support your close one. When a close one is ill, it's important to consider where you yourself draw energy and support for your life. When illness affects the family, even small acts of kindness and help from outsiders and close ones are significant: a hug from a work colleague, help with weekly cleaning or preparing meals, someone taking the child out to play so you can take a nap with your partner.

Life with an illness can sometimes be burdensome and exhausting for the close ones as well. It's important that, even in the darkest moments, there is a sense of hope. A romantic relationship can, in part, be reinforcing this feeling. There is light in the tunnel, not just at the end of it. As someone close to a person with diabetes, you can also bring hope into their life when the illness seems to take up too much space and the future feels uncertain.