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How to Help Your Family Deal With Your Diagnosis

Oh, man. You’ve just been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. In addition to all of the new things you have to stay on top of, you’re realizing your family isn’t taking your new diagnosis very well.

Everyone is reacting differently

Your mother keeps sending you articles about natural ways to reverse type 2 diabetes with celery juice and meditation retreats. Your partner doesn’t want to change the way they eat or what food they prepare, and it’s causing friction. Your kids don’t understand why you’re feeling sad.

This can feel like a lot to deal with, and it adds extra stress to an already stressful situation. So, how can you help your family deal with your diagnosis? Here are a few ideas.

Figure out what family support looks like for you

You can write this down in a list, and don’t censor yourself. You don't need to share this list with anybody. Some questions you may ask yourself are:

  • Do you want your family to be more involved or less involved?
  • Do you want your spouse to start exercising with you?
  • What does support from your kids look like?

You may not want your family to be involved at all, or you may want a ton of support. You could want your spouse to step up to help, and at the same time, you might want your grown children to leave you alone.

Refine your list and share it with others

Once you’ve written down your dream scenario, specify the three things that are most important to you. Maybe you really need your spouse to keep their worries about your health to themselves, and you ask them to find another way or person to whom they express those fears. You may want your parents to stop sending you articles and weird potions in the mail.

Whatever support looks like to you, figure it out, and communicate it to those around you. Yes, this is mostly for you, but giving your family clear guidance on what you need from them will help them cope, too.

Have compassion for the emotions your family may experience

You may find that those close to you have a range of emotions once they find out you have type 2 diabetes. They may be scared, they may try to take over and control your life, they may even be angry at you, thinking if you’d made different choices you wouldn’t be in this position.

It's not your job to fix their feelings

Regardless of what they’re experiencing, remember that it’s not your job to "fix" how they’re feeling. You can ask what they might need to cope and help them access the resources they need. You can also ask them to put a pause on speaking to you about your health for a certain amount of time and invite them to write down their thoughts. This gives both of you time to process things and hopefully come to a better place.

This is your life, not theirs

Not to be harsh, but this is your body, your health, your life. Other people, especially those who love and care about you, are going to have feelings. But ultimately how you choose to deal with this is up to you, and they may need a reminder that this is your diagnosis, not theirs. You can tell them this kindly, but firmly, and ask that they find a way to express themselves and come to terms with this change without directly involving you.

You and your family may go through some difficult times, but by speaking openly, being clear on your needs, and setting boundaries, you’ll get through this together and ultimately find support from your family.

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