Tension lingers after family’s tragedy
Dear Amy: I have been through a lot with a childhood friend of mine. Three years ago her 25year-old son was found dead. He drank heavily and had gotten in a fight with his live-in girlfriend. His death was violent.
The authorities ruled it as a suicide but my friend thinks that the girl murdered him. Every time we get together our visit starts out well and then she starts talking about how that girl needs to pay for what she did. She starts telling me the story again (I have heard it a hundred times), and it always ends with us both crying. This makes me very uncomfortable.
I love her to death and I cannot imagine the pain she is going through, but I get to where I don’t want to be around her. Our husbands are good friends and I keep making excuses not to be around them. How can I help her to find closure and peace? I have suggested counseling and she says it wouldn’t help. Please help me.
This is truly tragic, illustrating how a traumatic death continues to resonate in widening circles over time. I’m assuming that the police investigated this death and have ruled out any involvement on the girlfriend’s part.
Forget about closure. When a parent loses a child to suicide, there is no such thing as closure. The most a parent can hope for is the ability to cope day-to-day, so that the loss gets easier to bear over time.
Your friend definitely needs professional help. She may be avoiding it in part because she needs to cling to her own ideas of how her son died. Suicide is the hardest kind of death to bear; the unanswered questions rattle around and are never resolved. Family members of a suicide death are at an increased risk of depression and suicide themselves.
To preserve your friendship, you should be honest with her. When her ruminating starts, interrupt the cycle by putting a hand on her arm and offer her a hug. “I’m so sorry. I feel powerless. Please get help.” Offer to take your friend to a survivor group of parents whose children have died. Check out the Web site of the Compassionate Friends for the location for a local bereavement group ( compassionatefriends. Grief is isolating. Please don’t give up on her.
Dear Amy: I met my partner online. We’ve been living together for two years. When we got serious, she removed her dating profile but lately I see her hiding her computer screen from me and typing furtively. This raised suspicions. I have discovered that she has a new and active profile with the same well-known dating site where we met.
This is a new profile and shows her as active within a day ofmy checking. I would like to know how to go about confronting her without causing a huge blowup.
You can hope for a peaceful resolution to this, but perhaps a big blowup is inevitable. Don’t rule it out — or be afraid of it.
Obviously you have something important to discuss, and this incident will cause you both to face it. Share your honest reaction with her and ask her to describe what she was thinking when she chose to start shopping herself online.
Try to prepare yourself for denials and recriminations — and also for bad news. Unless you can come to a rational understanding, this should be a deal-breaker for you.