Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A dilemma

I'm facing a bit of a friend dilemma, and I'm not sure what to do. An old friend of mine from college (and high school actually) resurfaced on Facebook this month. In some ways we were close - I thought of him as sort of my conscience in college and he always encouraged me to pursue things outside of science because I think we both knew that I was sort of in between to two sides of the brain. We exchanged a few messages catching up and I mentioned my brother had died, and that dealing with it had been hard due to how he died.

I haven't heard from him since. This isn't the first time a friend has dropped off the face of the earth when I told them how my brother died. Things have been awkward with a number of friends, old and at the time new, since it happened. But usually I don't say anything. But for some reason this time it really bothers me, mostly because I never thought he would be one of those people. Not because we were extremely close, but because of who he is.

The dilemma is this - do I say anything, or do I continue to do what I've always done and ignore it. I feel like I've lost a number of friends in the last year and coming out and saying something to someone who has just resurfaced may or may not do anything to foster friendship. But in many ways I feel like I'm being 'punished' for something I didn't even do when people drop out of my life and I'm tired of it. It's hard enough dealing with what my family's going through without people backing away when support is what we all need most.


jillian said...

This may sound harsh, but if someone (anyone) reacts that way, it doesn't seem like they are really a worthwhile friend anyway.

I've found certain things from my life to be good litmus tests for a person's character. Not that I lie in wait to spring these things on people! There are just certain things that would can come up in conversation. I think everyone eventually has life tidbits that have the potential to make others uncomfortable, depending on their sensitivity. I used to be hurt when I would get negative reactions. Then I finally realized that that reaction was entirely about them, and was their shortcoming, and nothing to do with me.

I know this is a strong opinion, and please take from it what you will or nothing at all, if that's right for you. It just bothers me to hear that you have to fend off such crap after going through something so traumatic. People can be such pinheads sometimes.

yao said...

don't be afraid to reach out. it could be that your friend doesn't really know how to respond. or maybe something has come up and your friend has just really been busy lately or something. either way, it's not worth losing a good friend over. friends are forever!

Sara said...

In my experience, most people have so little experience dealing with death that they have no idea how to respond when a friend is dealing with a loss. They may choose to say nothing, thinking it's better than saying something wrong. And death is depressing and, frankly, unpleasant and people don't like thinking about unpleasant things. So friends that are avoiding you may just be unconsciously avoiding dealing with unpleasant thoughts and feelings.

I'm not trying to make excuses for people, because friends who've stopped talking to you because your brother died are tools. But just know, it's not you -- it's them.

Anonymous said...

How terrible. I can only assume people just don't know what to say, but that doesn't make it any less hurtful. I guess it depends on how much you want this person to be in your life, whether it's worth the effort to say something or not. That's really horrible, though, that so many people have responded (or not, as the case may be) when you share this with them. I'm so sorry. Big dummies. ;)

LotusKnits said...

I agree with depends on how much you want this person in your life. I'm guessing he's feeling awkward about it and doesn't know what to say. *hugs* So sorry to hear about your brother.

mehitabel said...

I'd probably make an effort to see if there is anything salvageable in that friendship, for the reasons Nonnahs and others mentioned--it may not have been connected. If it turns out it was, well, my experience has been that friendships have a life span, and sometimes it's just time to move on, hard as that may be. When my son died, we found the full range of reactions--and as Jillian said, it's more about them than about us.
Hugs to you--it's so hard to lose someone you love, under any circumstances.

textual bulldog said...

I'm torn between reactions. One part of me says drop the jerk, another part says that the person probably just doesn't know what to say. I remember when my dad died, the weirdest part was feeling ostracized and "punished," as you say, by the people around me. As if I'd done something??? But really, in retrospect I think they just didn't know what to say and were uncomfortable. There's really nothing to say, in the end, except I'm sorry, but some people don't know that and get all weird. Go with what your gut tells you to do on this one and I'm sure it will be right.

Katherine said...

I know I'm late to comment, but a friend and I both lost parents last year and were both surprised to see how difficult a time people had "dealing" with us. So we each created a mental "You Suck" list of the people that disappeared. I was very upset about it, since some of those people were (I thought) close friends, but someone pointed out that those people had always been, well, not the sort I want to be friends with, but that fact wasn't revealed to me until I went through this loss. I'm sorry that it's happening to you too. {{hug}}