The New York Times has an article on the phenomena of friends disappearing during health crisis. A phenomena those of us in long term chronic withdrawal syndromes know only too well. Many of us lose family too as we are dismissed as crazy. Luckily since the recovery rates are so high many of us are able to reconnect with family and friends and hopefully everyone learns some lessons as a result of this painful hell.
During times of crisis, we often depend on our friends for support. Now, psychologists are just beginning to explore why some friends seem to disappear during difficult times, unable to cope with other people’s trauma.
often care from friends is lacking or completely ineffectual…
Such people often wind up offering what Dr. Rainer calls pseudo-care, asking vaguely if there’s anything they can do but never following up. Or they might say they’re praying for the family in crisis, a response he dismisses as ineffectual at best. “A more compassionate response,” he said, “is ‘I am praying for myself to have the courage to help you.’ ”
I had dozens of people ask what they could do and when I gave simple practical responses, never heard from them again. It’s been devastating. A simple once weekly or even monthly task completed is enough to let people know they’ve not been forgotten as well as truly help a care-giver, but this is too much for most people to contemplate let alone carry out it seems. It seems that they are afraid of being sucked into a vortex or something.
True empathy inspires what sociologists call instrumental aid. “There are any number of tasks to be done, and they’re as personal as your thumbprint,” Dr. Rainer said. If you really want to help a family in crisis, offer to do something specific: drive the carpool, weed the garden, bring a meal, do the laundry, go for a walk. read whole article here
I wrote about this feeling of abandonment here. Luckily Baylissa Frederick wrote a balancing piece here. Most of us do go on to heal and forgive and learn so much about the sometimes very painful nature of being human from this experience. My teachers, people like Baylissa, are hardly afraid to help others who find themselves in such painful circumstances.
I’ve written on this issue a couple of other times as well. Here is a piece by someone suffering from a debilitating illness that speaks to others as well.
Updated info below:
There is both validation for those who feel abandoned here and also hope and inspiration that it will pass and we will all be better people after we regain our health and perspective.
- In the near absence of friendship…
- When I think of my relationships I have no regrets
- When Friends Disappear During a Health Crisis
- Living with chronic physical illness, why are we invisible?
- This is what it’s like
More recently I added a post in which I’ve come to have compassion on some of the painful behavior our loved ones show in the face of our illness:
Also in time as our souls heal we can learn to cope better and better with the limitations our bodies still have: