Grief and its can of worms...

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-26-2004
Grief and its can of worms...
3
Sun, 06-05-2011 - 3:17pm

Its been almost 4 months since my Dad suddenly died from complications of cancer. Since then some people's behaviour left me scratching my head trying to understand where things went wrong. I have always made an effort to treat my friends well and to be there for them when they need me since they were a lot more supportive than my own cousins. As a result, it wasnt unusual to get a frantic call from a friend with variations of 'Sam, I need to talk to you, can we talk right now or asap, meet up today, meet on msn/skype?. I would then be available until whatever issue or crisis has been resolved so i thought that I had more solid friendships but lately it was proved otherwise. Don't get me wrong there are some people who have been very supportive but some people left me beyond bewildered with their attitude and behaviour. Some people regularly contact me and ask me how I am doing and holding up and that always offer their support. While some who I thought i had a good friendship with so far chose to completely ignore what happened so they have cut off contact completely even though mutual friends told them.Some very close friends were supportive at first but now have become extremely distant or just got really weird and awkward. I always make an effort not to burden anyone with what I am going through, so I avoid the subject of grief unless im asked and even then im brief and to the point. If someone contacts me to ask about me I would feel more comfortable asking them about themselves than rattling on about myself. Recently, I was told many times that walking in my shoes must be difficult and that my efforts to cope must be hard since I prefer to deal with things by myself. The only person i used talk to when im feeling miserable used be my Dad so i dont call someone to talk (even if they offered). However, I can still make/take a joke,remember birthdays,other special occassions and socialise with my friends via the facebook (since it got me back in touch with over 95% of friends scattered around the globe). What irritated me was the blatant ignoring which I didn't understand when all the emails are about asking about the friend and their family but I still wouldnt get a response. I would then see this specific person very active on facebook and even playing farmville daily but still have no time to answer simple 'how are you?' email! So i gave up when it happened with a few people when i emailed once and waited without ever getting a response for days/weeks. So I closed my facebook account recently and stopped initiating any contact with anyone since i am feeling maybe either its me or i'm being too sensitive....

One so called friend sent me a shocking email and begged me not to tell her husband because he warned her not to broach this subject with me at this time. By the time i finished reading the email my mouth literally fell to the floor; a few weeks after my father died and knowing that my sisters and i are struggling to cope she decided that this is the best time to now 'reserve' my sister for her brother (he knows nothing about it since his mother and sister run his life). By then I had found out through this same brother how he has worsening serious medical problems and he divulged a lot of family secrets/issues that i wont repeat over here. I thought that it was extremely inappropriate and rude to even have the audacity to approach me considering the circumstances esp while she has hidden so much of the truth about herself, her family and her brother's health. I was polite and I emailed her that my sister needs to focus on her senior year and essential post grad training instead of talking about marriage which isnt a priority right now but for later. Well, she didnt like it and she then emailed my sister to convince her that her brother is a great catch behind my back, not knowing what her brother had told me. He had wrongly assumed that since she listed me as family on facebook that i know everything, so without me even pushing him he told me a lot thinking that I know everything already. I had guessed that she didnt like my response when she sent me a terse email back and then cut off all of her usual regular contact with me that she might then contact my sister without telling me. I then asked my sister and when she said yes I felt that I had no choice (i never reveal my friend's secret) but to tell my sister everything i knew so that she knows the reality of who she is dealing with. My sister was so shocked that she immediately closed her facebook account for weeks, then opened it and decided to be civil and very cautious with her. On the other hand, I am beyond livid; so whatever close friendship we had before has changed drastically when it became apparent that she always wants to know everything about me but what she gives in return is actually very little and evasive. She sent me an email last week telling me that after weeks of no contact that she is now demanding a very long and detailed email about everything asap and not to leave anything out, so I replied that there is nothing to tell and left it at that.

In order to make grief easier, I decided to make an album of some dusty and delicate old family photos covering several decades with family and relatives encouraging me to do so. That way there is one place where my sisters (we are based in different countries and cities) and I can look at those great memories and seek comfort in them whenever grief hits. Its alot better to see those photos then to remember our parents when they were visibly ill and struggling with the effects and toll of chemo and medications. I was very suprised when within minutes of uploading the pics on facebook, many friends on my list were continously commenting for hours before I got the chance to change the album's privacy settings. Hours later, i was extremely shocked when a woman (she was my high school teacher and hasnt seen me since i left it), wrote on my wall ordering me to remove any pics of my parents from my facebook account asap. She also wrote that 'drowning in memories' through those photos will prevent them from resting in peace esp. with my 'unacceptable grieving' like this as she put it. And that she also lost her parents so she knows all about grief (her parents died when she was in her 50's, so no comparison with losing both parents to cancer-mom at 12, and dad at 31) and that i should accept that everyone dies in the end and to stop this nonsense. By then, my inbox was filling up with horrified friends (who know a lot more about me than she does) asking me who is this woman and how/why did she think that it was appropriate of her to write all of this on my wall. Even friends who went to high school with me and knew her, were so horrified that they told me to put her on limited acces,s to prevent another tirade which i did after i had to defend myself on my wall. What right does anyone have to dictate how a person grieves when they havent walked in that person's shoes or even know everything?!?!?

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-26-2004
Sun, 06-05-2011 - 10:12pm

Hi wisdomtooth2020, my condolences on the loss of your sister and thank you very much for your reply and understanding. It is very true that its very difficult to lose your parent or to lose anyone so closely related to you. So I never got those clueless people who tell me that i will forget, but how can you forget your own parent and that they are gone?

Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sun, 06-05-2011 - 6:59pm

Condolences on the loss of your father. The behavior of your friends must be difficult to bear; that teacher just sounds like a crackpot (I hope that you un-friended her after that outburst). We all grieve in our own way and nobody has the right to tell you how or when or how long to grieve. Maybe you already know this but some good advice I was given was to expect it to last a year: go through an entire cycle of holidays and meaningful dates and events. At the end of that, having made it through, I felt a lightness, and I hope that you do too.

I have to wonder if your friends just don't know what to say or how to deal with you, so they say nothing and avoid you. Many people don't understand what it is to lose someone that close until they have been through it themselves. Death is a topic that many are uncomfortable with. And if you are visibly grieving then people may feel even less comfortable. I'm not suggesting that you do anything differently, and I don't mean to excuse them but just to offer a possible reason.

Community Leader
Registered: 01-03-2004
Sun, 06-05-2011 - 6:39pm

Summer,

Hi. First, my condolences in the loss of your father. It's a very difficult thing to lose your parent, especially your father when you were so close. I hope you will find peace and be able to smile again when you are ready.

Grief is a very difficult process. It's very different for every person. You are under no obligation to "fit" into some schedule that others may feel you should follow. And your observations about how others respond to your loss, unfortunately, are not so unusual. Strong, loving and confident people will embrace you and not fear your grief. Those who are afraid of loss, death, etc. will turn away. They fear death. (Our culture fears death.) And so they are not able to deal with ANYone's loss. This is where you find out who are true friends and who are not. As for your former h.s. teacher "ordering" you to remove your family photos from your facebook page because this was "unacceptable grieving," BULL HOCKEY. This woman, and anyone else, has no right and no business telling you what is "appropriate" in grieving. You put up whatever photos you like. You grieve YOUR way and no one else's way.