I can't be the only one

kaye820August 25, 2006

DH had been desperately ill for 9 years, and he passed away last year on Labor Day weekend. We had some very dear friends with whom we had been close since the '70s. We spent many long weekends and vacations together, became good friends of their grown children and even grandchildren, and we exchanged gifts at Christmas and for birthdays. When our own family members would visit we would take them to see our dear friends. These people were truly like family.

DH was diagnosed in 1997 with liver failure and diabetes and our friends had come to town to visit someone else, but they did come to the hospital to check on him. That was nine years ago and we, nor I, have not seen them since. I couldn't dwell on it to much back then as I was DH's caregiver and worked full time as well. We still received Christmas cards from these friends but never with an explanation of why there had been no contact and never with an invitation to come to their house when DH felt up to traveling. The only time we talked on the phone was when we called them, and eventually we began to get the message.

DH was terribly hurt and felt wounded by their abandonment, because in addition to the personal relationship we had, he and the husband were professionals in the same field and collaborated on some projects.

When DH died last year I called them to let them know. They were sorry to hear it but otherwise sort of glossed over my loss. Again, I have not heard a word from them since that call. So I called them last night. The husband didn't remember who I was, and the wife chit-chatted a little about their family and asked if I was okay, and then invited me to come to their house for a visit.

As I said, I can't be the only one to experience this kind of disappointment. Have any of you sustained such an injury from those you loved? Should I drive several hours to visit them at home?

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When I lost my daughter a friend who had survived breast cancer said to me, "You'll be suprised at who is there for you, and you'll be surprised at who is not." She was so right.

I don't really have an explanation, except that some people are frightened by illness and death, and some are apparently rendered mute by it. If I were you I would try to regard this as a loss you sustained nine years ago, and not pursue the friendship any longer. In my opinion they sent you a strong message in the last phone conversation.

It's sad, I know, but take a look at who has been there for you. You'll know where to put your energies and affection. Best of luck.


    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 8:41PM
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Well that's really puzzling, isn't it? Maybe they got some mistaken impression from you and your husband.

As far as if you should go or not, it might give you some closure to that relationship, or maybe help understand their distancing themselves from you. Did the invitation seem genuine, or just offered out of politeness? I'd think about it for a week or so, and if your heart isn't in it, don't go. Or maybe if you have to go to that area for some other reason, you could include a stop by their home.

You are coming up on your one-year anniversary of your husband's passing. I'm sure it has been a difficult year and hope you are doing well. Best wishes.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 8:59PM
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It's not easy when you have a "friend" turn away. You probably didn't do anything to cause this. People change. Children grow up and no more contact that route. Your husband was seriously ill and they wanted no part of it or would have been there for you Now with time you don't have the same interests.
I'm so sorry he didn't remember you. Cuts deep but that should tell you what you meant to them. I would not visit and just let it go.
You have a lot of healing to do and need to take care of you. Make new friends or make some friendships closer ones. They are the ones that some day will look around and no one is there as friends are not conveniences, they're special relationships.
Take care

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 9:26PM
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I agree with alisande. Sometimes you're surprised by who gives you support, and who does not. Often it is the people you expect to give you support that are just incapable of doing so.

I think there is a lot of misinformation on how to deal with a bereaved person; there used to be the mindset of not mentioning the deceased's name for fear that the bereaved person would "remember" the person and get sad. As if we could forget! And, like alisande said, some people are frightened by illness and death, almost as if it's "catching."

There really isn't an easy answer for this, but I would suggest you put your energies into being with people who ARE there for you and who have been there all along.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 11:11AM
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Thank you so much, Susan, Socks, Lynn and Laser. You are very wise and compassionate folks and your responses have brought about a true healing effect. I'm not as angry now as before, nor puzzled, and have bypassed "how could they." They are merely lazy and totally self-absorbed. I will soon and decline the invitation, as I'm convinced it was perfunctory.

I've come a long way since last September 4 and no longer permit anyone treat me undkindly. They may attempt it but I don't have to stick around for the abuse. I hope DH can see me as I continue to grow and stretch and expand my interests and abilities. He would be amazed and proud, and I feel really good about myself. It's been a few months since my last meltdown so I'm hopeful of making it through this holiday weekend in one piece.

All my efforts now go into meeting new people, making friends, and enjoying my hobbies. And I have the time to invest in things I've always wanted to do, like volunteer, as well as seizing the myriad opportunities before me to do anything I want. Again, my profound thanks to all of you. I feel healthy again.


    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 5:41PM
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I don't know what to say, I agree with the views of the previous writers, I lost my daughter on the 28th of may this year, and what Alisande has said is true: ("You'll be suprised at who is there for you, and you'll be surprised at who is not." She was so right.)
In my opinion I would just let it be.
There are probleby a lot of people who genuinly want to be around you, treasure them because they are your true friends.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 6:27AM
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Kaye, you have such a healthy, positive outlook. There will probably continue to be meltdowns, although less devastating than before, but you'll get past them and go forward with the "good stuff" in your life. Best wishes for the weekend. Stay busy, do things you enjoy.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2006 at 11:24AM
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The others are right--people don't know what to say or do around someone who has recently lost a loved one. I myself have been guilty of this. Then I lost my husband in an accident, leaving me with 3 kids. We were best friends with the neighbors but they no longer had anything to do with me. Never called to see how we were doing or if we needed anything. No invitations for morning coffee. I felt so deserted! The following summer she saw me in my garden and talked to me. She said, "We didn't call or anything because we didn't want to say anything that would make you cry." I just looked at her and said, "I cried anyway. It would have been nice to have someone to do it with". Now when a friend says they know someone who just suffered a loss but they don't know if they should call, I tell them to call, and talk, and ask how they're doing, and share a memory of the deceased. I say it's ok if they cry. At least they know someone is thinking of them. So I'm not mad at any of those people. They just don't know any better.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 9:25PM
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I almost hate to say this because it is so negative.
When my daddy died at age 54, lots of people came to the funeral but then....hardly anyone came.
My Mother was still a vibrant woman with a great personality.
I think a lot of the couples friends didn't come any more because Mother was once again a 'single woman'. Couples hang out with couples most of the time. There's always a fear that a single person is in need of a partner & will try to take theirs.
I also agree that some people just don't deal with death very well. It lets them know they are mortal & reminds them that they (we) will all be there one day.
My advice would be to "FORGIVE THEM" & go on with your life. Don't waste another precious moment wondering why they acted the way they did. That's their problem & they probably feel guilty enough anyway.
YOU are ALIVE & make the most of your time here.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 8:02AM
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It's been a year now since my grandson took his life. I had a friend for years and was listening to her troubles for two years. When I needed her to listen to my grief and give a little support all she could say was there is no such thing as depression. She is so totally wrong. I treasured her friendship but I can do without her negative thoughts. I realized I don't need to deal with people who bring me down or won't listen when I need to talk.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 3:29PM
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I think these stories are so sad. Losing a spouse, grandson, how unbearable, but we must go on for their sake. My husband volunteers for Hospice so we 'see' how many friends and family, and supprisingly the adult children that stop visiting these people. I want to think that they are not selfish, they just don't know how to deal with the situation, but that also makes them selfish.
We are moving back to my hometown because my family is getting older and we want to be there when they need us.
I agree with the 'forgive and forget' advice and go on with your life and make new friends. Depression is very real, I have been there when I had a loss at a very young age and suppressed it, you are wise to know you need to talk about your grief, I wish I had realized it at the time.
God bless us all,

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 3:03PM
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