Good Days…Bad Days With Maureen Pratt

Image courtesy of bigjom/

Image courtesy of bigjom/

I learned yesterday that a friend died in October. I knew she was very ill. She had reached out to me for moral support, and I had visited her twice in the hospital only a few days prior to her death. But although I asked a family member to keep me posted on her condition and explained that I was willing to help in whatever way I could, I never heard another word after giving that family member my contact information. Even during my visits, she was unable to communicate much, and the family closed around her and never reached out to me afterward. I learned of her death from a Web posting after I did a Google search.

When a family member is critically ill or dies, the family is usually very close to the situation. But in the case of a friend, the boundaries and lines of communication can be less instintive. This doesn’t mean friends aren’t important; in fact, for many adults, friends are in some ways closer than distant or even geographically near family. I’m not talking about romantic friends, but rather those friends we gain through work, college or grad school, church, or social activities. In the case of the friend who just passed, we had known each other for 20+ years through playing tennis, and even when we weren’t playing because of my health or her work commitments, we still kept in touch. Yet, een in the case of a long friendship, the role of a friend can be cut short if family decides otherwise.

Learning of my friend’s death so soon after my last visit was a shock, especially the way I learned about it. And it feels odd to shift gears from wondering how she is and hoping the family will reach out to now, remembering a friend who has passed and knowing my help will not be needed. But the past is past, and remember I will – and not hesitate to answer other friends’ calls when and if they need my support.

Especially for those of us with serious illness, death will at times punctuate our relationships. In thinking about this entire situation, I of course understand and respect the role of family, especially in caring for someone who is terminally ill. But I also think it is important for family members of adult relatives to understand how broad someone’s network of good friends can be, and how much we as friends want to be supportive in good and bad times. And afterward..We as friends mourn, too, and a little bit of consideration can go a long way in helping the healing process to move ahead smoothly – for family and for friends.





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