Daily Press (Sunday)

Friend is no-show after mom’s death

There may be an explanatio­n for her stumble that doesn’t make her a terrible person or friend, just not very good at this.


Adapted from an online discussion.

My mom died a couple of months ago after a long illness. When it became clear her death was imminent, I shared the news with a handful of friends, thinking they would want to know and would provide moral support. With one exception, they checked in frequently and so were among the first to know when my mom died.

I didn’t hear from the “exception” for two weeks; she initially contacted me about something else and then quickly followed up asking about my mom, as if she’d suddenly remembered. When I told her, she asked if she’d missed a group text. I told her I’d shared the news one-onone with people. When she realized a mutual friend knew, she told me she’d just spoken to her and she hadn’t told her

(as if it were the friend’s fault). She went on to say how horrible she felt and she’d had a “few things” going on and had been “checked out.” The majority of the exchange was about her. She shared condolence­s, asked if I needed anything and that was about it.

Since then, nothing.

I’ve tried to focus on all the people who have been there for me, but, months later, this still makes me so angry and upset. In fact, when people ask how I’m doing, this is an anecdote I share. She’s been MIA with others for a while, too, so it’s not just me, but I thought she’d step up in this situation. How can I get over this? — Angry and Upset

Dear Carolyn:

I am sorry for your loss, and that your friend let you down.

Dear Angry and Upset:

Please stop trashing her to your other friends, though, for a few reasons. One is that you don’t know what is going on in her life, mind, heart. She may be awkward around death, or dealing with her own nightmare that she’s not sharing with you because you’re grieving, or she may be emotionall­y stunted in ways you were already kind of on to but it hadn’t mattered to you before now. I actually sympathize with her dismay at the friend who didn’t update her on the news. In other words, there may be an explanatio­n for her stumble that doesn’t make her a terrible person or friend, just not very good at this.

Another reason not to trash her: She’s no-showing others, too, which suggests she’s dealing with something herself.

Another is that trashing her encourages you to dwell on her when so many others came through for you. This is why we make more than one friend, if we can.

Another is that you might be diverting your mom pain to your friend because your friend feels like a more manageable place for it. This is not unusual with grief.

Another is that trashing anyone is a bad look. Stop.

Email tellme@washpost. com or write “Tell Me About It” c/o The Washington Post, Style Plus, 1150 15th St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071

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