I have been friends with someone for five years. I always felt she was more attached to me than I was to her, but it never bothered me much. She is a sweet person, and we got along great.
Twenty months ago, her fiancé died suddenly. It was devastating for her and difficult for me. I was friends with both of them. For a long time, I was at her beck and call. If she needed to talk, come over or whatever, I was there for her.
Then about a year ago, two separate times, I overheard someone ask her if we were sisters. She said we were. I also heard someone ask her if we were roommates. Again, she said we were. Each time I set the record straight.
I took this as a sign she was feeling too close to me and decided to distance myself from her. I hoped once the year anniversary of his death passed, she would find some closure and wouldn’t need to lean on me for support.
As you may have guessed, that has not been the case. By being there for her so much, I feel I discouraged her from standing on her own two feet. Now her clingy ways are to the point where I resent her.
At first, I tried giving friendly hints when she called or emailed too much. I said things like, “Gee, I didn’t know we had an appointment.” But she ignored my hints. If I write anything remotely negative in my blog, she’ll check in saying she’s worried about me.
A month ago, at a party hosted by mutual friends, she followed me around all night. It doesn’t help that I don’t feel I can discuss this with others, because they all know about her ordeal and will think I am being insensitive. As it is, I feel guilty every time I think or feel negatively about her.
While I like her as a person and still want to be friends, this has been frustrating and stressful. Is there a way to resolve this situation without breaking a heart that’s already been broken?
Greta, in one episode of the TV series Midsomer Murders, detective Tom Barnaby says, “Too much grieving will disturb the dead.”
There can be too much of wreaths, flowers and memorial stones. Grieving can kill the griever. Grief needs to find the right place in your friend’s life and in yours. You lost a friend when he died. Being wrapped up in her grief is not letting you move on either.
We know a woman whose fiancé stepped into traffic and died 20 years ago. She celebrates the anniversary of his death each year, and she expects special consideration from those around her each time.
We cannot wallow in death. Grief needs to run its course and be put away. It is not a scab to be picked at. We want to live with hope. We want to take off the black. A party is a symbol of life, and at a party you were haunted by the specter of a person who is dead.
A classic pop song says you have to be cruel to be kind. That’s actually a line from Shakespeare. “I must be cruel, only to be kind: thus bad begins and worse remains behind.” A slow fade from your friend’s life would be a kindness to you both.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for week of July 2, 2018
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Wayne & Tamara answer as many letters as they possibly can.