Loss is hard enough, but it’s even tougher when your relationships don’t hold up. Maybe your friends or loved ones lack the time or energy for your needs or they can’t cope with the sadness or anger that follows loss. Or, they may not know how to help or have too many problems of their own. For whatever reason, it’s very sad to find that your friends aren’t there when you need them most.
There’s an old adage that, “When one door closes, another door opens.” I find this very true of relationships. People whom you expect will be there at the hospital, the funeral or after a death just don’t come through. But others you don’t expect are always there for you. The friend who sits with you in the hospital waiting room, the neighbor who offers to watch your child or walk your dog, or the driveway magically cleared of snow after a storm.
While there’s often gratitude for the outreach of help and support, it doesn’t lessen the sting when a friend just isn’t there during a time of need. The resulting resentment can ruin a relationship. So what can you do?
If you are like me, it may be hard to know what you can ask for and even harder to do the asking. People can’t be faulted for not helping if they don’t know what you need. When my husband had surgery years ago, I thought I could only ask friends to do just one thing. When a friend offered to sit with me during surgery, I asked another close friend to take me to dinner. And I foolishly thought that was all I could ask her for. She was surprised months later when I shared this; she would have helped me eagerly all during the convalescence if I’d only asked.
When you are down and out, it is hard to summon the energy (courage?) to articulate your needs. But if we expect others to step forward, that’s what we need to do. If and when we have asked for support and it is not forthcoming, we have a right to be disappointed. Even so, don’t assume the relationship is unsalvageable. Give others a second chance; you just may be surprised at your bounty.
Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now available in e-book and print for "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage" and e-books: "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store. Click here to order.
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