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How selfish do you be in a situation like this?

(6 Posts)
squirreltrap Sat 15-Apr-17 09:25:59

This is really hard to write but I would appreciate some perspective and views.

One of my best friend's sons took his own life a few years ago, he was incredibly young, it was a terrible shock and it has devastated a whole family and community.

I have supported my friend without fail throughout the whole time, we talk every day, I listen, I let her cry, let her be and generally try to be a supportive friend ( she is a single parent so perhaps has needed even more support from friends)

In the last few months, I have been having some issues with my own teenage DS. It is probably nothing major in the scheme of things - some friendship issues and changes which he has found upsetting which are more than likely just par for the course of teenagedom, but because of what happened to my friend's DS, I am unable to be rational about it. I am paranoid to the point of anxiety that he is going to take his own life. And it isn't helping him me being so paranoid and I even feel it might encourage him to do it, as it has become some sort of expectation, if you know what I mean?

So, I feel for the sake of my relationship with my ds, I need some distance from the devastating grief of my friend. But how can I possibly live comfortably with myself if I back off? She is my friend, friends support one another through the tough times, but this horrendous thing that has happened it affecting me too - that even sounds selfish writing it down.

I don't know what I am asking, I would just like some perspectives on this. Perhaps my boundaries are all wrong?

Iamdobby63 Sat 15-Apr-17 10:54:12

It's a difficult one. Obviously your focus needs to be on your own family.

Are you fairly open with your son? He obviously comes to you when something is bothering him and you don't want to put him off doing so if he is picking up on how anxious you become. I'm not the best person to advise because I never take anything for granted and can be very anxious when it comes to my teens, but I hide it well and they discuss everything with me.

If being so close to your friend is affecting your mental health then you will need to distance yourself a little. Is she getting help and does she have other support?

Most anxious people tend to be very sensitive to emotions of others and you may find talking to someone yourself helps you to put everything into perspective.

Sorry not much help.

HarmlessChap Sat 15-Apr-17 11:07:53

Can you explain this to your friend, does she have other friends she can turn to?

AndTheBandPlayedOn Sat 15-Apr-17 15:38:08

This is a tough one. At the end of the day, imho, your friend should be further down your list of priorities below your son and yourself (and any other family).

Does your friend rehash everything continuously even after several years? This just isn't healthy for her, and you would not be out of order to encourage her to find counseling/grief counseling for herself. This is a function (I presume) that you are not qualified to provide no matter how much you want to support her. Based on saying that to her, I feel it would be understandable for you to put up a boundary to not talk about that particular subject anymore (you have gone above and beyond any duty to her, but you just can not do that anymore). She may dump you, she may not-that is her call. But as said above, you need to look out for your own mental health and that trumps friendship.

When my dd was suicidal, one thing the folks in hospital did was have her sign a contract that she would not hurt herself; that she would find help by calling (fill in blank) person. Never mind the sting that she didn't put me down. You could try that with your son.

It is tough territory with teens.brew

pocketsaviour Sat 15-Apr-17 16:26:01

I have supported my friend without fail throughout the whole time, we talk every day, I listen, I let her cry, let her be and generally try to be a supportive friend ( she is a single parent so perhaps has needed even more support from friends)

It sounds like this happened at least 2 years ago. Is your friend still at the stage of crying every day and needing heavy emotional support?

Losing a child, especially to suicide, must be the most horrendous pain ever, but after several years if she is still suffering so badly then perhaps it's time she looked for more professional or experienced help rather than relying on you as her sole source of comfort and support?

You need to practise some self-care now. It's okay to explain to her that you are going through a stressful time right now (you don't have to be specific) and you don't feel you can give her the level of support that you have been, as it is making you quite anxious.

It is lovely that you have been supporting her for so long, but your health and your DS's must come first. As the saying goes, put your own oxygen mask on first.

These links may help your friend.

That second link also has a section on how to support someone who's grieving a suicide, which might be helpful to you.

flowers for you OP, you sound a wonderful caring friend and mum.

NolongerAnxiousCarer Sat 15-Apr-17 17:03:11

The most important thing that we can do when supporting someone else is to put our own health first. If we ho under we can't support anyone else. And obviously your son's needs have to come before your friends. As others have suggested pointing your friend gently in the direction of grief councelling sounds like a good plan. I also wonder if some councelling for yourself might help, as you are finding this is affecting you too. It is posible to be traumatised by events that don't directly affect you. (There have been cases of people who were nowhere near terror attacks developing PTSD as a result of them) and you have been providing a huge ammount of support to your friend. Its compulsory for proffessional therapists to see other therapists for support themselves because of the nature of the work they do.

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