Reply
Periodic Contributor

Losing Friends Support During Crisis

Hi, My name is Kay and I was wondering if any other caregivers were experience the loss of close friends or family during a health crisis?  This past spring, my husband went into heart and kidney failure suddenly.  He was sent to a hospital that has dialysis as he was expected to be placed on it immediately.  However, for 2 weeks, he was treated and during this time improved.  He did not have to have dialysis after all!  But, after his discharge, he came down with MRSA!  He was readmitted to the hospital in critical condition and for the next 43 days we were in the fight for his life.  During this awful time, two of our closest couple friends, (lifetime friends) completely abandoned us for some unknown reason.  They did not answer calls, and they never came to visit.  That was May, 2017 and now, December 2017, we are home, and he is doing much better, after 30 more days in Rehab, but still we have not heard a word from one couple, and the other has apologized for their "lack" of contact and paid a home visit.  We (especially ME) are hurt, and confused.  We also experience this from some family members.  Does anyone know what is going on?  How do we move on with these people, as the anger and hurt is still with us?  

697 Views
11
Report
Reply
Regular Contributor

One contant reaction that is expressed by caregivers is the loss of friends and family members. Unfortunately, many people run away and avoid difficult problems due to fear. Your friends and family members may be afraid that they will be in the same situation in the near future. I always advise caregivers in my support groups and family members of patients to express their needs to friends and family members. Of course, there is no guarantee. I recommend asking for specific tangible ways that people can help. It could be visiting your loved one so that you have some time for yourself, running an errand, talking on the phone. 

It takes rare people who are willing to look at you and your loved one in the same way. Don't avoid asking for help and think that you can do everything. Best of luck in your caregiving journey.

Dr. Marcy 

0 Kudos
2,590 Views
0
Report
Reply
AARP Expert

Kay,

 

     One other thing. Here's a column for AARP.org that I wrote on the subject a couple of years ago:

 

https://www.aarp.org/caregiving/life-balance/info-2017/fix-broken-friendships-bjj.html

 

It makes the point that we should only extend forgiveness to those who show real remorse. I still believe that. What do you think? Take care, Barry

2,752 Views
1
Report
Reply
Periodic Contributor

Barry:  Thank you for your reply.  However, unless you have actually experience this, in person, I think you won't believe the problem.  #1. Be frank?  I expressed my concerns to these friends early on when they were still "interested" in our situation.  They responded with NOTHING.  #2.  Be realistic what other can and will do."  I had to watch these friends go to the hospital to visit strangers, take them money, buy them clothes, food, and then tell me that they were afraid to come to the hospital for fear of "catching" something.  When my friend, broke her leg, years ago, I was asked by her husband to come sit with her so he would not miss work.  I did, for days.  When she had hip replacement surgery, I picked her up at the hospital to take her home after she called and asked me too because her husband had not driven that route in a while, and her daughter lived too far away, then I took THREE meals a day, sometime BUYING restaurant food, to them every day for weeks.  When her father-in-law passed, I house sat for them.  I dog sat for their doctor's appointments.  Now, I feel like a collosial door mat.  #3.  I expressed my needs in the form of mostly food issues, to BOTH sets of friends (long time friends, all the way back to high school, and we are in our 60's), because I have terrible food allergies and cannot eat hospital food, and could not leave the hospital to go get food.  I receive NO offers of a meal, or even to go to lunch in the entire 73 days of my husband's hospitalization and rehab.  NOT ONE. The second couple later apologized.  They did once tell me that if I wanted to drive to their house, I could have some "leftovers!"  #4.  I have accepted that this cannot be changed, I have moved on, I have grieved the loss, but NOTHING can take away the disblief and shock.  NOTHING.  That is why I posted.  People should be warned of this in a major crisis, as it obviously is NOT uncommon!,  But it IS shocking.  This is NOT the way I view a friendship.  I have one friend who called every day, prayed every day, and offered to visit or do anything.  She is a treasure to me, believe me.  I will NOT take advantage of her, ever.  

0 Kudos
2,749 Views
0
Report
Reply
AARP Expert

Dear Kay,

 

     As you can tell from the responses you've already received, this is a too-common situation, unfortunately. My theory is that your brush with illness and near-death somehow make other people feel more vulnerable, as if your bad fortune is somehow contagious. They then distance themselves from you and the reminder of life's catastrophes that you come to represent in order to decrease their own anxiety. The end-result is that they (probably unwittingly) act in cruel and dismissive ways to someone in need they ostensibly care about.

 

     In my own past experience as a caregiver who also felt abandoned, I aspired to be gracious but always felt an edge of resentment. I still have not been able to forgive the people who distanced themselves from me, even if I think I may have some psychological insight into why they acted as they did. I'm not recommending my stance. I consider my inability to forgive to be a failure on my part.

 

     Ultimately, people's choices and actions have consequences. I hope there were friends and family members who stepped up--perhaps more than you expected--and that your relationships with them were strengthened. For those fickle friends who stepped back and whose bonds with you have been weakened, the onus is on them to take steps to re-build what has been damaged.

 

     I hope your husband's recovery continues smoothly ahead, regardless of what anyone else does.--Barry Jacobs, co-author of AARP Meditations for Caregivers

     

2,756 Views
2
Report
Reply
Periodic Contributor

Barry:  After reading your other response, I see you too HAVE experienced this, and I'm sorry.  My husband woke up New Year's day and could not see out of his right eye.  His other issues HAVE improved, Thank God, but now, we have some bleeding going on, vision loss, and it looks like a diabetic complication.  He is now on the list for laser surgery in very near future.  So, the new year marches on.  However, as for the friends thing, I am NOT angry anymore. I WILL be extremely gracious to them if we meet somewhere.  I refuse to EVER let them know that they hurt us this bad.  And, also, I have now, lowered my expectations of others.  And for some, I even have NO expectations.  This helps me in the long run.  I also am a person of GREAT faith.  Even though people of faith are not perfect.  God knows my pain, and he knows how to handle it.  I believe if God wants us to have other friends, he will send them, and he already has.  Yes, we did reunite with some of my husband's relatives, a cousin that he grew up with actually brought him communion one Sunday at rehab!  He said they were boyhood buddies a lot and had a lot of stories to tell!  He and his wife have visited, and she is wonderful, a true, real, soul.  I love her.  So, God is still not finished with us and our "friends" and I predict things will be better then they ever were, because God knows best!  Thank you for responding and allowing me to "vent."  It HAS been therapeutic!  Kay

2,745 Views
1
Report
Reply
AARP Expert

Dear Kay--Thanks for sharing. I'm glad that you have been able to retain your faith and hope. I pray that your husband's medical conditions stabilize. Please write to us again and update us on how things are going medically and socially. Take care, Barry

2,660 Views
0
Report
Reply
Regular Contributor

People react differently to dealing with someone else's health crisis. That doesn't mean you should ever expect them to act differently in the future. There are people who will have your back and those that will turn theirs. Being angry is a safe emotion. If you let yourself or your spouse ever consider that it was something you did or didn't do then guilt could color your decisions of them in the future. While it is true that some people will say they were waiting for you to tell them what to do it shouldn't be necessary for anyone close. Everyone needs food, lawn work, clothes done... Try and be gracious whenever you do see any of these people but also work on finding a list of organizations in your area if ever needed in the future.

Most importantly don't let it change you. The hardest battle I have every day is to try and not hate.

2,847 Views
1
Report
Reply
Periodic Contributor

I have already decided that I will be very "gracious" whenever or if ever I run into these people again. I don't think I want them to think that they have hurt us the way they did. I refuse to give them that. But.....it will be a challenge! I don't hate people, but, I do feel sad for the lack of humanity sometimes.
0 Kudos
2,795 Views
0
Report
Reply
Gold Conversationalist

Dear Kay,
The people you describe do NOT sound like friends to me. Kiss your fair weather friends goodbye.     I think you will be better off without them.

 


@mb157 wrote:

Hi, My name is Kay and I was wondering if any other caregivers were experience the loss of close friends or family during a health crisis?  This past spring, my husband went into heart and kidney failure suddenly.  He was sent to a hospital that has dialysis as he was expected to be placed on it immediately.  However, for 2 weeks, he was treated and during this time improved.  He did not have to have dialysis after all!  But, after his discharge, he came down with MRSA!  He was readmitted to the hospital in critical condition and for the next 43 days we were in the fight for his life.  During this awful time, two of our closest couple friends, (lifetime friends) completely abandoned us for some unknown reason.  They did not answer calls, and they never came to visit.  That was May, 2017 and now, December 2017, we are home, and he is doing much better, after 30 more days in Rehab, but still we have not heard a word from one couple, and the other has apologized for their "lack" of contact and paid a home visit.  We (especially ME) are hurt, and confused.  We also experience this from some family members.  Does anyone know what is going on?  How do we move on with these people, as the anger and hurt is still with us?  


 

730 Views
2
Report
Reply
Newbie

Ive had the same problem of 'friends' turning their back on me. In some cases even family. I know Im better off without them but it hurts big time. 

 

Ive been out of work for 2 years now. Getting my employer to understand that I have another full time responsibility that takes precedence.

 

My grandmother is 93 and has a urinary stint that keeps a constant uti going. Ive taken care of her for 8 yrs now. Im very worried about my future. My health has suffered from not having relief. 

 

All I can think about is being homeless soon as she passes away. I have searched for programs that help people like me transition without becoming homeless. All I can find are ones that help people at the time of need. Ill need to set up an appointment then be placed on a waiting list?

 

Are there any halfway houses for caregivers? 

 

Apologies for getting off topic of original post

0 Kudos
2,808 Views
1
Report
Reply
Regular Contributor

I wish I could offer advice or assistance. I hope that someone can so all of us will become more educated and can be of help in the future.

 I will keep you in my thoughts.

0 Kudos
2,740 Views
0
Report
Reply
cancel
Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Users
Announcements

Ask the Expert: Juggling Caregiving Amidst Coronavirus this Holiday Season

Join AARP's Family and Caregiving Expert Amy Goyer to uncover the best ways to navigate the holiday season with your loved ones. Ask and Learn Now.

AARP Members Only Games

Was Breakout your favorite Atari game? Ready to knock out some bricks? AARP Members, now's your chance.

Don't let the ball hit the ground!
AARP Members Only Games Atari Breakout
Music and Brain Health

From soft jazz to hard rock - discover music's mental, social and physical benefits.

Learn more now.
/html/assets/SS-Marketing-Image-300x155.jpg