"If you didn’t have to worry about hurting anyone’s feelings or being prim and proper, what would ask for or want people to know?"
The ideal hug would be that given by gentle arms. Even though squeezes are painful, you can certainly wrap your arms around me. Don't be afraid of me; I promise I won't break or pass on my chronic illness. I might feel awkward and stiff, but I'm not trying to be cold: It's just how my body works. And please excuse my freezing hands! After all, don't they say cold hands means there's a warm heart?
Understand that I need a minute to hold on. There's so many times in a day I want to give up, but I know I can't. Often times I'm mustering every ounce of strength I have to keep going on. I don't want to have to do this by myself. Let me heal for a minute: Touch is powerful and healing, and I need all the healing I can get. Let me know I don't have to bear it alone and I have you by my side. I hope you understand if there's a tear running down my cheek. You have the power to reach through the wall I put up that hides my illness, and that's a side people rarely see.
If you really want to help me battle my illness, it's simple: Learn to give gentle, loving hugs. They are much more important than most would think.