Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché;
Right now, I really need some understanding from my best friend, Amy, and she is making things worse.
My father has Alzheimer’s. He’s been getting slowly worse for the last year and his doctor tells me he could be in this decline for a while.
He doesn’t know who I am anymore and he can’t remember what he said two seconds ago. It’s awful because I had such a good relationship with him.
I shared all the events in my life with him and I could turn to him with problems when no one else understood. Now he is an empty shell and the father I knew is dead.
Amy lost her father a year and a half ago and she is still mourning him, I think. I really sympathize, but she is making me feel just terrible because if I mention anything
about my own sadness, she just says, “well, at least your father is still alive.” She has no sympathy at all.
We’ve always been there for each other in the past. I listened to her talk about her feelings for hours on end after her dad’s funeral.
Now, when I need her, she just dismisses me as if I don’t know what sadness really is.
How can I make her understand? I almost wish my dad was dead, at least I could mourn him and let go.
Your friend might be having sympathy for you but what is lacking is empathy. She is caught up in her own grief and that can prevent her from understanding that you might be experiencing a loss just as she is. She lost her actual father, but you lost the dad you once knew.
Aging, Death, and dying are handled very poorly in our culture. What we see as being humane is often really a form of prolonged torture for all involved. We “leave things in god’s hands” or often prolong life when we would do better to take responsibility and be more proactive to end suffering. We treat animals a lot better than we treat people in aging and end of life issues.
It is difficult.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
Granny says: Amy may be grieving but she is also being an insensitive jerk. After a year and a half, if she is still focused solely on her own feelings, this is a sign that she is not processing her father’s death in a healthy way. Who knows what is going on, but I suspect that she needs therapy before she is capable of being a supportive friend.
Forget about finding the support you need from Amy and seek comfort elsewhere. If you are still a good friend, you might want to suggest she seek help. Then go find some of your own because Alzheimer’s is a disease that damages care givers along with the one receiving care. It’s no joke, it will increase your likelihood of depression, physical illness and early death.