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to have expected a bit more from friends re:bereavement of brother

(24 Posts)
sippysoppy Wed 26-Apr-17 09:41:59

my brother died unexpectedly at the end of last year from a short illness in his early 50's . we were very close and its left our family, especially our elderly parents, devastated. what has really hurt is that several so called long standing friends(20years plus since uni days) who also met him several times, have sent one text /email at the time offering condolences and nothing else since. we are all in different parts of the country but stay in regular contact and try and meet every few years. I know I am grieving but I feel like cutting ties- I would never have ignored any of them.some objectivity would be welcome please!

ProudBadMum Wed 26-Apr-17 09:43:38

Sorry to hear you lost your brother flowers

In regards to your friends, are they actually ignoring you when you message or have they just not been in touch since?

sippysoppy Wed 26-Apr-17 09:45:52

total radio silence. I get the giving someone space bit, but a text or something to just check in ....or even a sympathy card-just nothing. I've had much more support from people I've not known that long. it makes me feel that they just don't care which really hurts

Tootsiepops Wed 26-Apr-17 09:46:18

I say this as someone who has also lost a brother, but have you asked for, or told your friends that you need more support?

Sirzy Wed 26-Apr-17 09:47:45

What would you like from them? I don't mean that in a mean way but the issue is everyone handles things like this differently.

Have you contacted any of them and said you want to/need to talk to them about things?

I think with most of my friends after an initial "so sorry you know where I am" message I would leave it at that because I wouldn't want to risk opening wounds or anything by asking. People I am close to would know that if they wanted to talk they could.

There is a fine line between supportive and intrusive and for everyone that line is different so it's hard.

sippysoppy Wed 26-Apr-17 09:49:19

I haven't but 2 of them said they would be in touch and never bothered. I would offer support and just let them know I'm there if needed(and have done for many things). just feeling a bit used, maybe I'm reassessing the friendships but its hard over so many years to take this

sippysoppy Wed 26-Apr-17 09:50:06

maybe I do need to reach out a bit

Eightlegstwotails Wed 26-Apr-17 09:54:18

Im sorry for you and your parents loss it must be so very hard.
I once met a women who lived in a small village she had a very serious accident she said what amazed her was that those who she considered "very good" friends sent 1 bunch flowers/1 get well card at the beginning and she never heard from them again but two people who she barely knew (they would smile and pass pleasantries when they met) supported her every step of her very complicated 2 year recovery. Now she's better the "very good " friends are back. She says it's changed her views on friendship
IME others who've been bereaved /suffered traumatic events often say the same thing.
Some people, for perhaps a whole variety of reasons including of course their own bereavements in the past, are just not good at supporting us when it's not going well. I guess we just gave to accept this.

scottishdiem Wed 26-Apr-17 09:55:25

Sorry about your loss.

Different people grieve in different ways. How many messages would you have wanted/expected? In my family/friends circle the only death that really prompted a lot of contact/support was the death of woman with young kids. Parents and siblings have only really been that one message and, where appropriate, attendance at the funeral. Do you friends know how you are feeling and that you might want more support?

Also measure friendships in a different way. Is the support you are getting from more recent friends more a function of geography and seeing you on a regular basis? Whereas this is a friendship group that only really re-bonds every few years (which sounds more like a reunion than a regular friendship thing to me).

I would not be too harsh on your friends.

reallyanotherone Wed 26-Apr-17 09:56:52

It is a tricky one, with long distances, as it's difficult to judge where people are in their grief if you don't see them regularly.

What do you do, keep sending messages which you don't know how they'll be received- are you reminding them of their loss when they've had a good day for once and maybe reached that point when they feel guilty about those moments when they "forget"? Are you, associated with their life from "before", when your brother was alive, just a reminder of their loss?

What do you say on a text, or even a phone call? If you can't physically be there, you can't help, or do anything.

Is the contact the same as before? Are they ignoring you and not responding?

There's a recent grief thread which remarks on the fact that many people seem to think the done thing is "getting back to normal", back to school, work, almost as if anything else is just prolonging the pain. Maybe they're sticking to the same relationship you had before, and the same level of contact, in that belief. Some people don't want to have to do the "I'm fine" thing when asked how they're doing, and would rather not be asked...

If you want to contact them, do. If it were me I'd be pleased that you could do that, and know I'm doing what you need, not what I think is expected, iyswim...

Eightlegstwotails Wed 26-Apr-17 10:04:20

It's also hard to know when to contact someone and of course what to say. I think we often worry we're going to say the wrong thing. I recently met with a someone who I don't know very well but who's DS died he was at my DS's school. She talked about him and cried, I also cried my DM died around the same time (I struggle with the loss) and I cried for her I can't imagine anything more terrible that loosing your child, I apologised that I upset her but she said it didn't matter she wanted a chance to talk about him. But it was hard for me, a friend later said hoe "brave" I was she avoided this mum because she just didn't know what to say.

ArcheryAnnie Wed 26-Apr-17 10:06:06

I understand that you are grieving, OP, but I think there might just be a mismatch going on. You say "ignored" and "radio silence" but you also say in your OP that they have written to you to express their condolences. If they've done that, then it could well be that they are waiting for cues from you as to what else you want. It's difficult for you to see this from their point of view as you are right in the middle of this where grief is filling up your world, but your friends, as geographically distant as they are, won't know what you want unless you tell them.

Poudrenez Wed 26-Apr-17 10:15:48

My brother also died recently OP. I know how hard it is . The phrase 'you find out who your friends are' rings very true, but not just in a negative way - some unexpected people have been marvellous, and some older friends less so. The people I appreciate the most are the few who acknowledge my grief, three years on.

Can you honestly say that before you lost your brother, you knew how important long term acknowledgement of a person's loss was? I can't say I did. In fact I'm ashamed of how I used to avoid talking about other people's pain. Now I know better. I just don't think you can understand just how tough, and for how long, grief is until you've been there. It's the people who never acknowledged my loss that I can't relate to any more.

flowers flowers flowers

MumsGoneToYonderLand Wed 26-Apr-17 10:24:34

when my friends dad died (we were 15) i wasn't that sympathetic. Oddly I didn't consider that it was a big deal for her because she only saw him about once a year (he lived in paris) and he hadn't been that nice to her mum. the parents divorced when friend was 3.

but of course it has a big impact when a parent or sibling dies even if you aren't close ( you were, i know). Because on the distance and maybe because it hasn't happened to them, they cant conceive of the effect. maybe its a little thoughtless but i wouldn't not cut them off over this.

let them know you are stressed and devastated and need your friends to help cheer you up, and see if they take that cue.

sorry for your loss. x

PrettyGoodLife Wed 26-Apr-17 11:33:00

Sorry to hear about your loss flowers
When my DF was critically ill then died I started to feel the same way, but after a while I just realised that some of my friends are crap at being supportive they just did not know how to be there, some from just being a bit useless and some from inexperience. I still wanted them in my life, and just accepted them for who they were. It was not to let them off the hook, just because I thought that if I could allow myself to focus on the best side of them it was more helpful to me long term rather than allowing myself another negative thought pattern to emerge, they are probably less good friends now, but I can still have fun with them (but slightly more on my terms).

Willyoujustbequiet Wed 26-Apr-17 15:08:07

I lost a brother in his 20s very suddenly. Yanbu.

You do indeed find out who your friends are. Some people really stepped up for me and others I saw their true colours. Including my ex

Truth is some people have no empathy unless they experience something for themselves.

In this age of social media it takes nothing to let someone know you are thinking of them. Cut your so called friends loose. They arent true friends.

GreenFingersWouldBeHandy Wed 26-Apr-17 15:46:35

Sorry for your loss.

Death freaks some people out - especially when it is one of your peers. And some people don't handle it very well/are scared of getting involved/saying the wrong thing. I'm in my 40s and lost a close friend a few years ago - and was rather stunned and angry at how some of our 'gang' of friends reacted (i.e. denial/not a big deal) but actually realised that this is just how some people handle it.

As suggested above, I would suggest reaching out to them, they may assume you are receiving more support closer to home. And/or not realised that their support is needed or valued so much by you. Well, that's if you think that's what is happening.

But also on the other hand, as mentioned by Willyou above, maybe they are just selfish and not the friends you thought they were. I also realised this about a couple of my own friends and have had little to do with them since. Sorry if this is sending you mixed messages, but I don't think this is a right/wrong situation, it's hard to tell until you're in that position.

Witchend Wed 26-Apr-17 15:56:49

Different people want different things.
When I was in the position of a close relative dying I didn't want people asking after me. I wanted people to treat me normally, so I didn't have it jabbing at me all the time. People who seemed to be referring a lot to it, may have thought that they were being caring, but to me it came across as trying to push me into grieving the way they thought I should not the way that I needed to.
Neither attitude is wrong, and unless you say something then people can't tell what you want. I had to say to a couple of people that I really, yes really, didn't want to talk about it. I needed to process it in my own time. Other people need to talk to process it.

SomewhatIdiosyncratic Wed 26-Apr-17 15:58:46

Has their pattern of contact with you changed? If it's normally sporadic and continuing at the usual level then they're probably just maintaining business as usual rather than avoiding. Are you needing a bit more from them now than usual? Are they aware of what you need from them.

It may well be that neither of you are being unreasonable, just that the usual balance of the friendships is out of it's usual balance at present.

PeaFaceMcgee Wed 26-Apr-17 16:21:54

I think you need to tell them what you need. The cards thing is disappointing though. I too, didn't receive any condolence cards from friends, just texts and FB messages. I think their silence was about not wanting to 'intrude' - can seem a bit uncaring to invite the bereaved on a meal out.

But this made me feel like a leper so... Also some people are more comfortable with death than others. One friend had a look of panic flash across her face when I spoke about the deceased. Felt v.lonely sometimes.

sippysoppy Wed 26-Apr-17 16:36:29

I think hoping for the occasional"here if you need me" text isn't much to ask...suspect its a mixed bag, one may be awkward, another I think cant be bothered now she's not single anymore(years of angst phone calls from her in the past). when they do the usual and expect free bed and board trips to London where I'm based every year or 2 is not going to happen any more. but its not worth falling out over,and I know that before all this I didn't understand grief at all either

PeaFaceMcgee Wed 26-Apr-17 16:47:28


hollyisalovelyname Wed 26-Apr-17 20:06:48

I texted one of my closest friends 'Mum is dying'
I didn't hear from her for four months.
Mum had a miraculous recovery but I was left reeling by the lack of concern of so called friend.
She's not one of my closest friends now sad

Derlei Wed 26-Apr-17 20:27:32

I don't think yabu. To be honest, if my close friend had lost their brother, I wouldn't just be sending them a "hear if you need me" text, I'd be ringing them to actually TALk to them, or go and see them (which I appreciate from your op isn't logistically as easy in your case.) Honestly if you can't be there for your friends during time of a distressing bereavement, then what's the point? What are they there for? Good times and laughs?
Why should the OP have to say that she needs support, it's her brother's death! her friends surely will know that the OP is not going to be finding it a walk in the park. I don't buy the "don't want to intrude or stoke up emotion" thing at all. How is brushing it under the carpet going to help someone who's grieving? It takes 30 seconds to pick up the phone and say "how are you getting on, is everything ok".

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