In the weeks and months that follow a death, when real grieving takes place, many bereaved report that they feel all alone. The calls and visits have stopped and the friends that gathered around them in the days following the death are nowhere in sight. It’s very common for the bereaved to feel as if their friends have abandoned them when they need them most.
So what can you do if you have lost a loved one and feel utterly disappointed in your friends?
The sad truth is that when you have lost a loved one, you are the one grieving and you are the one whose life has changed. Friends care but they have their own lives to live too. They face their own challenges and problems and they may be struggling as well.
While you may be finding it hard to put one foot in front of another, if you need and want support, you’ll have to seek it out. It may be helpful to begin with a support group of other folks who have had a similar experience. Support groups are a way to communicate what you are feeling in a safe place to vent. Anger is such a part of the grief process and anger can frighten someone who has not experienced a similar loss. Support groups can be a helpful place to learn how to articulate and deal with your anger without taking it out on those around you.
When you need and want companionship, you will have to reach out to others if they have not reached out to you. If you want friends back in your life, you may have to do the initiating. When reaching out to absent friends, it may be easier to begin with an email. “I miss seeing you” won’t lay a guilt trip on someone who has been out of touch. Suggest meeting for coffee or a meal or going for a walk. When you do get together, resist making them feel bad for staying away. And make sure to ask what is going on in their life too.
Almost everyone I speak with feels that their friends shy away after a death. I’ve had this experience too. Whether you choose to cut your friends some slack or never to see them again is a personal choice; always a tough choice to make.
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 three individual volumes: "Illness & Death," "Suicide" and "Miscarriage." Additional titles are available as 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.
Image: Flickr Creative Commons/Bert Kaufmann