Advice from Amy: ’My Friend Has Deserted Me in My Grief’
Is prayer sufficient, or would practical help be more appropriate?
A woman has lost both her parents and has two estates to settle, but her childhood friend is nowhere to be found. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson suggests when the grieving woman’s friend deserts her.
During the height of the pandemic last year, each of my (divorced) parents died suddenly, two months apart.
As a result, I was left with two difficult estates to wade through on my own.
My childhood girlfriend has only seen me once in seven-and-a-half months, even though she is well aware that I have no help from siblings or immediate family.
I feel very hurt that she believes that “praying for me” is enough.
In my time of need, shouldn’t she be expected to do something practical?
This is such a tough situation, and I’m so sorry you are experiencing it.
Yes, good friends should have a reasonable expectation of assistance when times are tough. And yes, good friends sometimes let each other down.
However, you don’t mention actually asking for help. If there is a job you believe your friend might be well-suited for – for instance, driving boxes to the donation center – ask her.
I have come to understand that unless people have personally faced this sort of challenge themselves, they don’t have any idea of how physically exhausting and upsetting it is to clear out parents’ homes.
Years ago, after dealing with this myself, I ran into an old friend from high school; her truck was piled high with her late-father’s belongings. We both stood in a snowy parking lot and traded teary stories about how hard this aspect of loss had been. And we agreed that until we had actually had the experience of clearing out households after a death in the family, we’d had no idea how lonely and overwhelming it would be.
If you are simply overwhelmed by the enormity of the entire task, you could ask your friend: “Can you come over to my mom’s house for a few hours on Saturday and keep me company while I sort through some of her things? I’m really struggling and could use a hand. I’ll bring the donuts.”
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In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2021 by Amy Dickinson