When a loved one has just gone through the traumatic event of having a limb amputated it can leave them pretty devastated. While I know as an amputee myself, that this process doesn’t just affect the amputee – it affects their family and their friends as well. If someone you know has just been in this situation or will be due to a scheduled amputation I hope that I can provide a little guidance on what you should and more than likely shouldn’t do.
First and foremost, trauma has a tendency to uncork a person. It is very possible that their mental state is very fragile – even when they put up the front that everything is peachy keen, trust me. Try and not get frustrated with them for being a little rude, maybe a little snarky. I mean they did just have a part of their body removed and scheduled, unscheduled, or absolutely necessary, I am pretty sure it wasn’t something they would have chosen for themselves.
Expressing your condolences with a simple, “I am so sorry, if you need anything please let me know.” Is sufficient enough for people that you really aren’t all that close to. Usually, a person who has had a limb amputated will be up and around in a few months doing some of the things they did prior to their amputation.
Sometimes the best thing you can offer is just an ear to talk to. Especially when they need a little extra moral support. There are also different situations where the limb loss has affected their driving, in which case you could always offer to be their chauffeur to and from their PT and other appointments. This could also be very helpful for the person that has been there 24’7 to help them through it all, that can get pretty stressful for both parties. For instance, when I was a new amputee my Mom was there each and every day during my convalescence, so it was nice for her to take a break while my grandmother, aunt, or sister took over the reins for a bit.
Other things can help a person tremendously. They might have gone through the stage of sitting at home for more than what’s probably healthy and are ready to get out there in some sunlight. Adjusting to society can be hard and emotional straining, as well, to a person who has just been through trauma – especially those who’ve been through limb loss. So, having a friend there to talk to is a huge plus!
Last but not least, try not to tiptoe unnecessarily around their missing limb. There is nothing more annoying to a person who’s just lost a limb than to be treated like a child, incapable of even speak for themselves. Remembering that they are the same person they were before they lost their limb as they are after.