Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Loss Of Lifelong Best Friend Makes Woman Question Mourners Motives

Dear Tazi:

A friend of mine recently passed away and I am grieving her deeply. My problem is that her children, who are also grieving her, seek to lean on me in their grief so that we can "mourn together". "Josephine" was my oldest, dearest friend and as a sister to me. We were each other's honor maid/matron in our wedding parties and never did a week go by without one of us calling the other or visiting - if only for a few minutes. Our friendship spanned over 50 years and her unexpected passing feels all too untimely to me.

Josephine's children are all grown with families of their own, and over the last ten years or so they had drifted away from their mother, as children will do once they have lives of their own. Because of busy schedules - theirs and their children's - Josephine's children rarely came to see her; it was she who made the effort to attend her grandchildren's soccer games, ballet recitals, and band concerts. Josephine hosted every holiday celebration, partly out of tradition and partly because her daughters/daughters-in-law would insist on limiting the guest list so as not to have to cook a huge feast for 20 - 30 people. Josephine's table was open to all who wished to celebrate with her - family and friends.

I cannot help but feel upset and a little angry that her children - who did not appreciate their mother enough to make time for her when she was alive - suddenly want to put on a huge show of love now that she is gone. One of Josephine's daughters even asked me if I could "help" her put together a big family Christmas like her mother always did, in memory of her mother, claiming she didn't have the first clue of where to start! One of Josephine's sons has told me that I am the closest link he has to his mother, and could I please consider sitting in her place at his daughter's ballet recital next month. I have never been asked to attend one before, and I have a feeling that neither parent will be attending; that they are looking for a free babysitter.

Can you think of any way that I can push Josephine's children back a step or two to allow me to grieve my loss in peace? I understand that they are grieving, too, but I fear it is for all the wrong reasons.

At A Loss In More Ways Than One

Dear At A Loss In More Ways than One:

You have my deepest condolences on the loss of your best friend. Such a long-lived and close friendship is a gift that you obviously treasured and do not wish to see tainted by the advance of the fair-weather friends that remain. You do not mention how close Josephine's children were to you when they were younger; just that they moved on with their lives and from their mother as they got older. I do not doubt they are mourning the loss of their dear mother; are you certain that they seek to use you to take over the responsibilities she once handled? Is it possible that you are misreading their intentions? Could it be that in their guilt over neglecting their late mother they are reaching out to the one who was most connected to her?

Beautiful, but a lot of work - especially for a working Mom!

I would suggest that right now you strike a balance between giving Josephine's children the benefit of the doubt and maintaining the distance you need to comfortably mourn your loss. If you are not at ease with the idea of helping to plan a big holiday dinner with Josephine's children, tell them that. I am sure you have family of your own to attend to during this time. Might you invite Josephine's children and grandchildren over for coffee and dessert after their Christmas dinner? With regard to attending a child's ballet recital, how close are you to this particular child? Would seeing you there in the audience bring her a swell of happiness or would you simply be another face in the crowd? Each of these requests needs to be taken on an individual basis, and carefully considered. If it is something you feel would help to ease your pain and/or strengthen existing ties, go for it. If not, you are well within your rights to politely decline all offers.


Ask Tazi! is ghostwritten by a human with Bachelors degrees in Communications and in Gender and Women's Studies. Tazi-Kat is not really a talking feline.

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