Ask Amy: Near the End, a Friend Withdraws
A heartbreaking end-of-life decision
Dear Amy: Last year a good friend was diagnosed with cancer and embarked on chemotherapy treatment.
I let her know I would be there for whatever she needed, and until recently our friendship didn’t seem to change. She had always been very active, and we continued to spend time together. I took my cue from her as to whether she wanted to talk about her illness.
Last month she got the news that her chemo was failing and that her situation seems terminal. She suddenly ceased all communication with me – no answers to emails or phone messages.
I don’t know her other friends well enough to have contact information, so I don’t know if she has withdrawn from everyone.
She does have very strong, close family support, so at least I know she’s not alone in this. But I can’t help but feel that she has abandoned me. Not knowing how she is, and not having contact information for her family (they all seem to be unlisted), I’m in the dark as to whether she’s at home or in hospice or what, and it’s breaking my heart.
I guess all I can do is continue to email, send cards and post encouraging messages on her Facebook page. Any other suggestions?
– Brokenhearted Old Friend
Dear Brokenhearted: When facing the end of life, some people withdraw from all but a very small circle of people. You are right; this is heartbreaking, but this is what this individual wants to do. If you are in touch with your friend on Facebook, you also should be able to contact at least one of her family members through Facebook to see how she is.
Remember that they are also in a crisis moment in their lives.
Hospice care is a great gift to the dying and those who love them. A hospice counselor could speak with you, so at the very least you would understand the process in order not to take this personally, and to ease your own pain and feelings of loss.
Your local hospital should be able to connect you with a hospice volunteer.
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