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What to think - situation with a friend's widow

(20 Posts)
adviceneededhere Mon 04-Apr-16 12:43:47

I'm not sure if this is the right place to post this. It's not a 'couple' relationship issue but a friendship one. I'm quite new to Mumsnet and I couldn't find a more appropriate section for friendship issues, so I hope this is OK here.
Bit of a background story. I had a male friend who I met at University (over 25 years ago). He was one of my closest friends. There was never anything to the relationship other than a real, genuine good honest friendship. When we met, he had a girlfriend, who became his wife, so I have known her for just as long. I always stayed close to them as a family, and when I met my DH, he also became good friends with them. I am godmother to their 2 children, and he was godfather to my DS. Sadly, my friend passed away about 18 months ago. I stayed close to them throughout his illness, and was involved in the funeral etc. After he died, my friendship with his wife and their children continued and we saw each other fairly regularly (we live about an hour away, so it's not possible to just pop in).
For the last few months, however, she seems to have stopped contact. She never returns my calls or texts. We saw each other over Christmas and had a perfectly pleasant evening together and exchanged gifts for the kids. Since then, I haven't seen or heard from her. I sent one of my Godsons a card and gift for his birthday, but heard no thanks or anything. I've tried calling and texting, but have heard nothing.
It's been my DS' birthday this weekend, and he hasn't received anything from them. Now, please don't think this is about receiving gifts, but I'm just a bit puzzled as to what is going on. I know that nothing has happened to them, as I see pictures of her out and about with friends on Facebook.
I know that she has been through a terrible time and it's not long at all since she lost her husband, but it just seems to be a very abrupt change. I may be reading far too much onto this, but I'm wondering whether she is perhaps trying to cut ties with people that were 'his' friend, although I always considered her to be just as much a friend as he was.
I hope this doesn't sound like 'poor me' but I'm just genuinely upset and not sure what to do about this. I miss my friend terribly, and his family are the only links that I still have back to him. He would be devastated if he knew that I had lost touch with his children. Any advice would be gratefully received.

AlleyCatandRastaMouse Mon 04-Apr-16 12:48:45

Might you have inadvertently said something that upset her. Bereavements are such an emotional time, innocuous comments that would be completely harmless at another time can be sometimes taken differently when someone is grieving with all the heightened emotion that brings.

For the moment I would keep going as you are doing and trying to keep contact and see if she gets back to you.

Somerville Mon 04-Apr-16 13:04:28

It's of course possible that she might want to cut ties, but what seems more likely is that she's in survival mode and has no energy by the end of the day. This was certainly my experience after bereavement; dealing with the grief as well as suddenly lone parenting took every resource I had. I dropped lots of routine tasks that I'd always thought important (returning phone calls, sending Christmas cards, remembering birthdays, all that kind of thing).

I became closer to my family, and to the friends who turned up to help me out with all the practical things, and who had the patience to sit crying with me for hours. And I lost touch with others, mainly those who live further away, now I think about it.

Like Alleycat says, I would keep trying to reconnect with her, so she knows you're there when she's ready. Not daily messages, but a card or a text ever week or two.

adviceneededhere Mon 04-Apr-16 13:16:06

AlleyCat I've been wondering exactly that myself. But, the last time we saw them, they came over to ours for dinner. It was a lovely evening, and when they left it was all hugs and kisses and 'lovely to see you' and I've not spoken to her since, so I can't have said or done anything in between that time!
Thanks Somerville I think you have summed it up really well. She has a very close circle of friends and family that I know have been a tremendous support. I've tried to offer some of that, but with living not so close, it's impossible for me to do what others have been able to, e.g. looking after kids after school, popping in for a cuppa, showing up with a cooked meal etc.
I think also part of the problem is that she has been so 'together' since his death. Even the year that he died in November, she did Christmas cards and presents. Maybe it's just catching up with her now though. I know that grief can sometimes take a long time to sink in. I think maybe my expectations are too high because she seems to have dealt with it so well, but I guess we don't really know what goes on underneath. Thanks, that's really helped me to put some perspective on it.

Somerville Mon 04-Apr-16 13:46:15

Yes everyone's experience of grief is different. It may be that staying busy helped her for a long time, and only now is she wallowing and coping less well. I've also heard that a lot of widows find they receive less help and support after the first anniversary, when others can assume they are now getting over it all. Though I heard this from my mother, who has been very determined that this wouldn't be my experience smile

I'm sorry for your loss of your friend, BTW. flowers

Wuffleflump Mon 04-Apr-16 14:14:22

Hmm. It seems to me that even though you got on, you may have been still very much 'Husband's friends' to her, rather than her friends.

Certainly I have people I'm happy to spend time with via partner, but I know I'd never see them again if anything happened to us as a couple. Not because I dislike them, but there is only so much time to keep up with friends and family as it is. Lord knows there are plenty of my friends I haven't seen for years. People have to prioritise their time, and you may have slipped down her list now her husband isn't there to push you up the priority list.

Goingtobeawesome Mon 04-Apr-16 14:17:11

Maybe your friend did the gifts and she hasn't thought about taking over?

adviceneededhere Mon 04-Apr-16 17:29:12

Wuffleflump I think you have nailed it. Even though I have always considered her to be a friend due to the length of time we have known each other, we only ever did things that also involved her husband. We have never gone out just the two of us, or had candid conversations, or anything that you would normally do as friends. I suppose I was always mainly her husband's friend.
To be honest, I'm absolutely fine with this, and accept that her priorities will be with friends that she has chosen herself, and that are more a part of her life. I'm just sad about potentially losing touch with the children. I want to see them grow up and see what they grow into, as they are my link back to my friend. For that reason I will keep up the attempts at contact - I just don't want to come across as too demanding!!

butteredmuffin Mon 04-Apr-16 17:36:24

It may be that you remind her too much of her husband.

I would give her space, but let her know that you are still there and still her friend. Keep making contact with her every now and then, but give her space to grieve in her own way. Hopefully she will come back to you when she feels able to.

springydaffs Mon 04-Apr-16 21:02:31

If there weren't kids involved then maybe you would have to back out gracefully. But you are godmother to her two children, so you do have a role here.

When I was recently ill and having a treatment, a friend who lives a long way from me sent me a card every week or so. It meant a lot to me and I'll never forget it. Something about it was 'no strings attached' - unlike, say, a text, that sort of demands a reply in a way? I was very poorly and couldn't keep up with people and your friend's widow may be going through it at the mo and can't function socially in the way she did.

The other thing that occurred to me is she may have met someone else and is worried she will be judged?

oneoldmare Mon 04-Apr-16 21:11:00

Just a thought and i may be in completely the wrong track but maybe she had met someone else.
It might be difficult for her to tell you as you would be loyal to your friend?

WetLettuce123 Mon 04-Apr-16 22:05:26

She's obviously avoiding you. Even if she had no energy for meet ups she hasn't acknowledged cards and gifts you have sent which sounds hugely out of character. I think there must be some kind of misunderstanding here. Jumping to (wild) conclusions could a mutual friend have given her some false information about you? False information about your relationship with her husband? You may never know which will be agonising. I would send a message saying you're sorry you haven't managed to connect since Christmas and hope she's OK. I'd then ask if I had upset her in some way. If she doesn't respond you may have to sadly write off your relationship with her and the children.

stopfuckingshoutingatme Mon 04-Apr-16 22:57:14

I think what wuffle said / it's sad and hurtful unfortunately - but as even your post referred to her as 'friends widow' - which is telling

That said you are god mother - maybe back off - quite majorly and leave it for a few months - and see how you feel ?? Sometimes relationships slip - give it some space and see - and unfollow her on Facebook - top tip !

TheVeganVagina Tue 05-Apr-16 03:29:32

Op your friend is still very recently bereaved. Grief is a funny thing, you can go along ok for a while and then bam you are back into the thick of it. I lost my beautiful dh 2 years ago so i speak with experience. Please excuse her not thanking you for gifts. She is having the most traumatic time of her and her dc lives. Nobody has any idea until you have lived it. I have completely gone silent for 6 months before. I wasnt being rude, i didnt have the energy to be rude, i was trying to survive with my dc. It is enlightening to hear what others think is going on though! It would be hurtful to know that people were thinking i must be in a new relationship, especially when they dont see the daily struggles to keep going. And then hurtful to think that even by chance i had met someone that would mean that i am not going to speak to any of my dh friends or family anymore. Im not your friend, but it really doesnt sound like you have done anything wrong, and im sure its not because you remind her of her dh, she has her dc t remind her of him. Just leave her be, she knows you are there and when she is ready she will be on touch.

springydaffs Tue 05-Apr-16 19:04:42

The other day I came across all the really lovely and kind cards and letters people had sent when exh died. What amazed me was that I hadn't replied or thanked the senders. And this was a bereavement once removed iyswim; I wasn't even at the centre of it.

At the time I didn't think 'i'm not going to reply'. I didn't think anything much tbf, I just couldn't function on that level at all. I registered the cards and letters and they were a help - but I was on another planet at the time.

Bereavement can be brutal - normal rules don't apply. It comes and goes. Sometimes it can really bite much further down the line.

amarmai Tue 05-Apr-16 22:51:51

You want to watch the cc grow up and keep a link with her dead dh. That is your agenda and you say you will persist with it. The widow has other more urgent matters to deal with than helping your agenda.

springydaffs Wed 06-Apr-16 18:46:25

ouch amarmai!

Somerville Wed 06-Apr-16 19:11:00

It's likely that the widow will want her children to have a relationship with their godmother, amarmai.

And they've met up as recently as this Christmas.

OP hope your gentle attempts at recollection pay off eventually. I suspect they will.

adviceneededhere Wed 06-Apr-16 20:58:08

Thanks all for your helpful words (except amarmi - you're a real charmer aren't you hmm. Anyway the good news is that my ds received a birthday card from them yesterday, and within it a note saying that she would be in touch to arrange a meet up. I'm so pleased.
I will take on board those helpful comments that she does have her own circle of friends, and it's still very early days in the bereavement, and the fact that she just may not have the energy to respond to calls etc. Just to see her and the children occasionally will make me very happy. I can't ask for anything more than that.

amarmai Thu 07-Apr-16 07:52:48

i chose to look at your posting from the point of view of the widow .You chose to make a derogatory personal insult because i did not charm you. What does that make you?

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