An Open Letter From A Grieving Friend

Support Systems / Support Systems : Litsa Williams

Dear close friend who disappeared after someone I love died,

Hey there.  It's been a while since we talked, a long while in fact.  I have been thinking about it and it seems time we catch up.  Let's start by reviewing the course of events that contributed to the distance between us, as I remember them.

First, this terrible, devastating, tragic thing happened to me and you didn’t know what to do.  You made a couple efforts at the beginning but then you just disappeared.  I'm not going to lie, I was feeling pretty annoyed by that.  You let a lot of time pass without calling or texting or emailing or visiting.  Though this was probably because you felt awkward and were trying to figure out what to do or what to say, it doesn't change the fact that I felt abandoned.  

And now a bunch of time has passed and you probably feel super awkward reaching out.  Me too, it's awkward-city around here.  I see this awkward-cycle continuing and, as much I want you to be the one to break it, I realize it is probably easier if I do it. So here I am, doing it.

Now, my friend who disappeared, I have some good news for you. I am declaring an amnesty for all past weird, avoidant, awkward behavior. I am viewing this as a chance to pick our friendship up, dust it off, and see if we might just get back on track. It is an opportunity to collectively acknowledge that grief is hard and society doesn’t make it any easier to know how to navigate all this.  So if you can forgive me for some stuff I can forgive you for some stuff.

Here's where I propose we start: text me, call me, message me, whatever.  It will probably take a little work from both of us, but I’m in. And because I hope you're in, I am going to include in this letter some reasons this friendship may feel hard.  I am hoping if we talk about them it may make things just a wee bit easier.

First, you will probably ask me to do things we used to do on three or five or ten different occasions and I will say no every time and get a little annoyed that you keep asking me to do things.  You will give up and stop asking and then I’ll be sad you gave up.  I realize this seems irrational, but grief-brain can be a little irrational.

You may think that when I am finally ready to do something we used to do I’ll just go ahead and call to make plans, and that is a reasonable thing to think. But I probably won’t, because I just don’t have the energy for that and, as I said, grief-brain is a little irrational. This could spiral us back into this same not-talking predicament again, and let's agree we don't want that.  So if you promise to ask me if it is okay to keep asking me to do stuff, I promise to tell you the truth and to try to find the motivation to text you if the whim to do something hits me.

Sometimes you will feel like you are being a good friend to me in my grief and I won't be receiving it that way. Frustrating, I know.  There is nothing you can say or do that is going to bring back the person I really love who died, so just be there for me, offer support and at least pretend you aren’t scared of my intense grief emotions. I promise that will be a pretty safe place to start.  Though often I won't know what I need or I won't want to speak up about it when I do, I really will try to open up about that when I can.

One day you might say something that minimizes my grief or makes me feel like I haven't been heard or supported by you.  I will be tempted to silently stew, hold it against you, or think it means you are a bad friend.  I promise to try to remember that it is hard for you to know what to say or do.  I will be honest with you about how it made me feel if you will be open to hearing it.  I promise not to hold it against you if you do your best not to rush me, not to look for silver-linings for me, and not to minimize my grief.

One day something will remind you of the person I really love who died and you won’t be sure if you should tell me because you have no idea if it will make me smile or cry. I have no idea if it will make me smile or cry either, but it is pretty safe to say even if it makes me cry I’ll still be really glad you were thinking about the person I love and wanted to talk about them.

I may get a little aggravated and judgy sometimes when you seem consumed by things that now feel totally unimportant to me. If you promise to bear with me when that happens, I will try to keep it in check and remember that even though my universe stopped, yours didn’t, and that’s okay.

On special days like holidays and birthdays and anniversaries, I will probably be feeling especially low. If you could remember that and check in around then, just so I know you haven’t forgotten about me, that would be pretty great. So go ahead, set a reminder in your phone. Right now.  I'll wait.

I may have a hard time letting go of the fact that we had a rocky patch at the beginning of all this, but I promise to work on remembering that it isn't your fault.  You haven't been through exactly what I have been through and you couldn't read my mind to know exactly what I needed.  Heck, I barely knew what I needed.  

I also promise to remember that I have been acting a little snippy and entitled and flakey and sad and angry and confused and intense and emotional and that doesn't make me the easiest person to be friends with.  I hope you'll remember that being there for me goes a really long way, even when it's hard.  Especially when it's hard, actually.

So here it is- a clean slate. A new day. A fresh start.  I hope we're in it together.

your grieving friend

We wrote a book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
real-life book!

After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible, real-life book!

What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.

You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books:

Let’s be grief friends.

We post a new article to What’s Your Grief about once a week. Subscribe to stay up to date on all our posts.

Related Blog Posts

Related Blog Posts

See More

57 Comments on "An Open Letter From A Grieving Friend"

Click here to leave a Comment
  1. Update comments on all blogs  October 20, 2022 at 9:43 pm Reply

    This site is not maintained? Can you at least update comments on your blogs

  2. Please update comments  October 20, 2022 at 9:42 pm Reply

    Please atleast twice a month check the comment and update them

  3. Lisa  October 14, 2022 at 11:59 am Reply

    Please update this blogs comment and other blogs comment section

    • Litsa  October 21, 2022 at 11:06 am Reply

      We try to approve comments weekly, but occasionally it is a bit longer than that. We do our best, but this is a free site and we feel it is important that comments be reviewed to ensure safety and privacy, so we do our best to balance those things.

  4. Christian  October 10, 2022 at 10:17 pm Reply

    Loved this post. Well written dear

  5. Abra Weldon  October 6, 2022 at 1:37 pm Reply

    To my grieving friend. Even if i don’t message you often, I just want you to know that I’m always thinking about you.. Sometimes its hard to tread between giving space or caring so much. I know you’re trying to be OK. Just remember if ever you need anything, I’m here.

    • Abra Weldon  November 6, 2022 at 8:35 pm Reply

      I DM her and we chatted for a while. She’s trying to be ok for her child and said there are times she feels sadness rushing in. I know just like a broken glass, even if you glue the pieces together. She’ll never be the same. I just pray with all the pieces of my heart, that in time she would find peace and happiness again

  6. Ambo  September 29, 2022 at 12:09 am Reply

    What a great letter.
    I have this friend whose husband recently died. I want to reach out to her as much as possible but there’s also a part of my brain telling me to give her space. All i really want is to be there for her when she needs a friend. When she need someone to talk to, listen. Or just sit with them in silence..

  7. ~k  April 21, 2022 at 12:07 am Reply

    Thank God for this true blessing of a website, its info, guidance, knowledge and education, hands on things…
    Thank you to everyone- down to the comments, ALL are appreciated!
    Many Thanks, each of you have made such a difference.

  8. Sharron  February 28, 2022 at 11:57 pm Reply

    I lost a son to cancer and a couple of real good faithful friends seem to just go away and not be there for us….they have no children but we’re very close to us and our son….they said they dont know how to feel…WELL HOW DO YOU THINK WE FEEL, ITS OUR SON WE LOST AND YOU DONT KNOW HOW TO FEEL..? Get over yourselves….we dont need friends like you…we know who our REAL FRIENDS ARE…….

    • Sherese  March 6, 2022 at 8:04 pm Reply

      I am very sorry for your loss. My brother recently died and one of my close friends of over 20 years disappeared. No calls or texts, nothing. Another friend kept texting me “Have a great day” with a smiley face until I finally told her it’s hard to have a great day since my brother died.

  9. Tom Engler  October 5, 2021 at 10:14 pm Reply

    My wife died July 2021 and I lost my heart and partner of 56 years. She was my soul and best friend. Throughout our lives together she was all that I needed. I had no real friends only her and my job and our children. With her gone I need not write any letter to friends who have forgotten me and don’t understand my grief. I now only have to deal with the extreme loneliness which overtakes my life every morning, noon, and night. The loneliness is deafening. I’m ready to leave and be with her.

    • Litsa  October 10, 2021 at 12:58 pm Reply

      Tom, I am so sorry for your incredible loss. Connecting with other widows might be a really helpful support for you- it can be such a good place to connect with others who are going through something similar, especially when you don’t have a lot of other friends. Though the loneliness can be overwhelming, please know that there are others to connect with and we are rarely as alone as we feel. If you are ever thinking of hurting yourself, please reach out to someone at the suicide helpline – you can call them at 800-273-8255 or do an online chat at this website: – they can be a huge support in the darkest moments.

    • Helen  December 27, 2021 at 12:38 am Reply

      Aloha Tom,
      I dont know if you will ever see this but I wanted to ask how you are doing with the holidays. I totally understand the loneliness you described. I am there myself, although my dear best friend spouse died eight years ago, Dec. 20; our anniversary Dec. 23 and Christmas Dec. 25. This time of year is very difficult and my heart goes out to you with your loss so recent. “Whatsyourgrief” website has been so helpful to me over the years and I hope you will use it; please continue to reach out as there are so many caring people and so many that understand the agony you are going through. The center core of your being has been taken from you. It does get better. In a way we should consider ourselves lucky that we had this special love. So many people never get to experience what you had and still have with your wonderful wife.

  10. Amber  January 8, 2021 at 5:00 pm Reply

    This is beautiful! Thank you <3

  11. L0  June 16, 2020 at 2:25 pm Reply

    Defending my grief has added more pain to my grief. Other than losing my brother, one of the hardest parts about grief is talking to people who never suffered lost before. Defending their or their friends actions, the horrible excuses they give me that they don’t understand actually offends me, thinking I’m hard to deal with yet when I’m going thru this pain and not them, people who never suffered lost and thinking they’re always right, etc. I had a lot of people not contact me when my little brother died and in order to heal and move forward I just chose to kick them out of my life completely. I see no point of keeping these people in my life. If you’re not there for me at my worst, you definitely don’t deserve to be there for me at my best. If they talk to me about anything I can honestly tell you I won’t care about anything that comes out of their mouths. How do these unsupportive people expect to me react when I see them for the first time? Like nothing happened? Hug them with open arms like everything is okay. It’s not. Just putting me in an awkward moment. Good riddance.

  12. Zsuzsana  August 31, 2019 at 8:27 pm Reply

    Thanks so much for your Insightful perspective on this issue ,,,,

    I have often wished I was able to write a letter such as this to certain people who abandoned me in my hour of need ,,,

    I have been widowed four years now ,,I nursed my darling husband for five years prior to his death from cancer and previous strokes ,,,

    Fortunately I was a registered nurse and heaven knows how anyone without nursing training could cope with this eluded me

    The people with whom I spent so many happy times when he was alive just disappeared after sending flowers or messages,,,never to be seen again
    It was very difficult as I had no children to comfort me ,,,,,,I had to suddenly learn to stand alone and try to manage a house ,,,sell cars, boats, etc, with no help,,,which I managed to do ,,,I had to learn to do online banking ,,,and so on,,,it was so difficult in amongst the grieving ,,,,,
    I had cardiac arrests five times ,,,,hospitalisation ,,, Injuries sustained from the arrests ,,,causing inability to drive ,,,and so it was very traumatic ,,,,
    I realised I had to be strong and learn so much ,,,,
    I joined a grief support group ,,,and a Solace group , where I made new friends and they also knew how it felt as we had something in common,,,,,so it made life a bit easier
    I decided that I really didn’t need the people who had deserted me ,,,,,,,,,and I will not chase them ,,I have close friends who were there for me and have stayed ,,,,they are special people who I treasure ,,,I have one friend I met aged three ,,,we went all through school together ,,, we have been friends for 75 years!!!, And many others whom I love dearly ,,the others will one day maybe experience a similar kiss and then they will know how it feels ,,,,?
    She is always there for me and vice versa ,,,,

  13. Zsuzsa  August 31, 2019 at 8:13 pm Reply

    Thanks so Much for your wonderful perspective on this problem ….

  14. Karen Gentry  March 3, 2019 at 5:57 am Reply

    I lost 5 family members in one night to a home invasion. My dad, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and his girlfriend. If it had been the night before my son and I would have been there too. It was veterans day and I was wishing my dad a “happy Veterans Day I love you and I will see you Friday” “okay love you too, someone is at the door” That was it, early AM call there is a fire at your brothers house…where is Eddie? Is he okay? Dad would be there where is he? Let me call you back…all we’re gone in an instant.

    People don’t know what to say…what do you say? What are the magic words? There are none. I hated being home, I hated the press, I hated people walking through my family home…everything was so wrong. I did a tv interview small town USA and I said it’s not home anymore. I will Never come back and it be the same. My home town.

    Dropping everything and driving from Dallas to Dads I forgot a lot of stuff so a quick trip to Walmart….walking in a girl from High School I really did not know well says “Karen, yes? I saw your interview and what you said about not being your home anymore…she hugged me and said we all love and support your family even if you don’t hear us. This will always be your home and we will always love you.”

    That was a turning point to one of the most horrific days of my life…That hug, those words…they continued through the month we stayed, random people would stop us…People don’t know what you are feeling…they knew what I was feeling because I told them and they thought about it and knew how to address it.

    I put my grief in a box in my head and I don’t let it out…it sneaks up on me and I put it back. I speak of it like a 3rd person and remember all the wonderful times we had together because we were really close. Death makes people uncomfortable, I don’t bring it up unless asked and I make them feel comfortable speaking about it. They are afraid to hurting you. They are not bad people but if you bringing up memories or them bringing up memories maybe the chemistry for a real relationship is not there.

    Be courageous, Be Bold…who is Karen who lost 5 family members in one night? I am not a victim, this act does not define me. I remember all the wonderful memories, live each day with joy because we all have an expiration date and we will never get that day back. In loving memory of Edward E. Gentry Sr 80-years-old, 56-year-old Edward Gentry Jr., his 52-year-old wife Pam, their 24-year-old son Jeremy, and Jeremy’s 19-year-old girlfriend Kristyn Warneke❤️

  15. Karen Gentry  March 3, 2019 at 5:48 am Reply

    Con’t… They are afraid of hurting you by bringing up the memories or you make them uncomfortable with the memories because they don’t know what to say…they are not bad friends…give them a chance to understand and if the chemistry is not there it’s really not someone you want in your life. Be courageous, be strong, find out who the new you are…who am I? Karen who lost her dad, brother, sister in law, nephew and his girlfriend…I am Karen on a journey…that learned life does not come with an expiration date. Don’t sweat the small stuff, enjoy every day because you won’t get it back. I am not a victim, it does not define me as a person. In loving memory of Edward E. Gentry Sr 80 years old, Edward E Gentry Jr. 56 years old, Pamela Gentry 52 years old, Jeremy Gentry 24 years old, Jeremy’s 19-year-old girlfriend Kristyn Warneke. ❤️

  16. Karen Gentry  March 3, 2019 at 5:33 am Reply

    I lost 5 family members in one night to a home invasion. My dad, brother, sister-in-law, nephew and his girlfriend. If it had been the night before my son and I would have been there too. It was veterans day and I was wishing my dad a “happy Veterans Day I love you and I will see you Friday” “okay love you too, someone is at the door” That was it, early AM call there is a fire at your brothers house…where is Eddie? Is he okay? Dad would be there where is he? Let me call you back…all we’re gone in an instant.

    People don’t know what to say…what do you say? What are the magic words? There are none. I hated being home, I hated the press, I hated people walking through my family home…everything was so wrong. I did a tv interview small town USA and I said it’s not home anymore. I will Never come back and it be the same. My home town.

    Dropping everything and driving from Dallas to Dads I forgot a lot of stuff so a quick trip to Walmart….walking in a girl from High School I really did not know well says “Karen, yes? I saw your interview and what you said about not being your home anymore…she hugged me and said we all love and support your family even if you don’t hear us. This will always be your home and we will always love you.”

    That was a turning point to one of the most horrific days of my life…That hug, those words…they continued through the month we stayed, random people would stop us…People don’t know what you are feeling…they knew what I was feeling because I told them and they thought about it and knew how to address it.

    I put my grief in a box in my head and I don’t let it out…it sneaks up on me and I put it back. I speak of it like a 3rd person and remember all the wonderful times we had together because we were really close. Death makes people uncomfortable, I don’t bring it up unless asked and I make them feel comfortable speaking about it. They are afraid to hurt

  17. Carol Ann Reed  February 27, 2019 at 8:47 pm Reply

    I have been incredibly blessed, having suffered very little personal tragedy in my own life. I’ve lost both my parents and I miss them horribly. But, their lives weren’t cut short unexpectedly. Heck, I had all 4 of my grandparents, alive and well, until I was 28 years old and we all lived in the same town! I now live in the house my grandparents built in 1959. I am still finding notes from my grandmother, like hidden treasures all around the house. I am the luckiest gal in the world.
    However, I have seen tragedy strike right next to where I stood so many times, I started to wonder if maybe I’m a jinx.
    My best friend’s little sister was abducted by a serial killer. They eventually caught the guy but, by the time he went to trial, I had moved to CA and was on the road full time doing stand up comedy. So, I made sure I was booked back in Texas during the 6 weeks of the trial. Murder trial by day, comedy by night. It was weird but fortunately, I am just odd enough to pull it off.
    I was with my friend and fellow comic, Ron Shock, when he passed. His widow and I are forever bonded like war buddies.
    2 years ago, my friend, Lisa, lost her 22-year-old son, Conner, in a horrible auto accident. Oddly enough, we have become closer and closer in the past 2 years. She has written a wonderful book called “Guided by Grief”. I recommend it highly to all. It is insightful, touching and just a really good read. I am beaming with pride as I tell you that I am in the book and my chapter is called “Army of Angels”.
    Just as I finished reading her book, the insight I gained was immediately called into action. Another very close friend suffered an unspeakable loss. Her daughter, also 22, was gunned down right outside their front door. She is now getting to raise her 2-year-old granddaughter. She also just lost her own Mom. I can’t even fathom her pain!
    Now, you might be wondering how it is that a happy go lucky comedian has so many friends whose lives are such a buzz kill. LOL! Well, I already told you ….. I’m lucky! I am so grateful to have each and every one of these extraordinary people in my life. I am blessed by their friendship and I DO NOT look upon their sorrow as a burden but, as an honor. Anybody will invite you to a party but, it is a real privilege to be invited into someone’s nightmare. Can’t you see what a compliment that is? The guest list to such an occasion is usually quite short so, your absence is certainly felt. Sure, it’s an awkward party…. but, I wouldn’t dream of missing it.

  18. Theresa Wong  February 27, 2019 at 11:32 am Reply

    A very wise widow mentored me after the loss of my husband. When I expressed to her the additional grief of losing long time friends she expressed to me:
    ” People don’t know…what they don’t know…”
    This profound statement has helped me so much to forgive & heal from the hurt that had consumed me. Now I try to do the same & mentor widows that are starting there new journey alone.

  19. Linda  February 27, 2019 at 11:08 am Reply

    I’m 28 months into my widows journey, I was hurt and saddened when people started disappearing….after Multiple attempts of reaching out and the only answers I received back were the sound of crickets. The realization of how much I’ve grown and changed is not lost on me or them. I’m no longer Linda and Jim…I’m just Linda and no doubt some of them can’t nor do they want to know this new me and that’s ok. Ive made peace with the fact that their part in my life and journey had ended, as mine in theirs did.

  20. sandy  February 27, 2019 at 8:17 am Reply

    my best friend of 61 years unfriended me because she said she couldn’t handle my grief. that says it all. she is no longer my best friend or any kind of friend

  21. A Grieving Mother  July 1, 2018 at 9:36 am Reply

    As a grieving mother I have found out that 90% of my “friends” left when we lost our son and truthfully I can’t be bothered anymore with this people. I always said if you can’t stick with me during the bad times I absolutely don’t want you around for the good times. I can not believe the amount of people who we were close with that we haven’t heard from since losing our son very unexpectedly other then a floral arrangements and nothing beyond that, and then a few others who we did hear from for a few months following our loss then they’re now gone. I say God forbid they lose one of their children then and only then will they know what we’re feeling.

    • shelly mitchell  February 28, 2019 at 3:23 pm Reply

      I could have wrote your statement. I did not lose my child ( I am so very sorry for your loss) I lost my husband unexpectedly. Same here with 90% people and that includes family gone! All the best friends…gone! Honestly I don’t care if they didn’t know what to say…they could have just sat here and said nothing…I call BS and I too say if they can’t be here through any bad times , why in the world would I ever want them in my good times?!! It’s been 3 years now and I have made some friends…but have a hard time trusting anyone anymore…I have learned to rely on myself…it can be a very lonely world can’t it? I’m sorry you have felt pretty much the same. Hugs go out to you.

  22. mary  July 12, 2017 at 2:37 pm Reply

    Sorry, I don’t like auto correct.
    i meant to say that friends like that are NOT really worth the effort

  23. mary  July 12, 2017 at 2:34 pm Reply

    After the loss of my beloved husband, I lost several friends, including one that I knew since I was 5. One friend actually told me they were sorry for my loss but that they couldn’t do anything to help me.
    I was shocked to actually hear those words coming out of someone’s mouth.
    She and her group were in the “disappeared” friends group.
    At the same time, while it would be nice to turn back time and have all those friends and my husband back, I know its not realistic. I know now who my true friends are and I treasure them. I feel that the other’s are really worth the effort to track down and beg/ask them to be my friend again. With friends like that, how needs enemies

  24. Pamela winmill  June 17, 2017 at 10:11 am Reply

    90% of my friends apparently didnt know what to say to me after my Husband died, these were my neighbours who we had known for 36 years been on holiday with had parties with bbqs and fun weekends , for a year they have run if they saw me, now i ignore them, one of them is saying i am out of order for treating them like this, i would move but my Husband and i were hapy here .

  25. Bezz  August 10, 2016 at 7:34 am Reply

    One should not justify or excuse oneself for grieving. The disappearing friend is likely to run again when faced with another bend in the road. Forgiveness is fine but as long as the friend is willing to learn and grow. Although painful it is better to let go of those who wish to run. I am not in favour of begging someone to stay, it only creates more hurt.

    • Bezz  August 10, 2016 at 8:38 am Reply

      Friends should show decency and compassion. Family/friends say the most stupid things which is a reflection of their expectations. Even trying to educate or explain your feelings sometimes won’t get through. I really do not think one should expend any further energy on friends who run and abandon. Seriously I think that person who exhibits such insensitivity is not worth the pain. Everyone should stop making excuses for so called friends. Have compassion and respect for yourself.

  26. Deb  August 8, 2016 at 1:41 pm Reply

    Re: asking for what you need and how miscommunication can so easily happen, there’s a “tried and true” formula from relationship experts that works (at least with non-“toxic” people), and isn’t all that difficult to do, even in grief, assuming you DO have some clue as to what your needs AT THE TIME are.

    First rule of thumb — stick to sharing “I” statements, both initially, and henceforth in any following conversation or other contact. The 3-part formula:

    “When you (fill in the blank),” or “when (fill in the blank) happened”…”I felt (fill in the blank).” “I need (fill in the blank).” It’s simple and direct. You can also follow up the last statement with either asking if they feel they can give what you stated you need or want, or ask an open-ended question such as “can you share how you feel/think about that?”

    This method doesn’t make others guess at your needs, doesn’t attack them for their possible failings, garners respect for yourself, and potentially paves the way for further understanding on both ends. Unfortunately, it often does NOT work that well (if at all) with self-absorbed, “difficult” people who are not comfortable or desiring of honest communication, learning, or feeling empathy for others. With people like that, often the best thing is to simply distance yourself from them as soon as you can ascertain through trial and error that they’re not “interested” in good communication…most especially during the overly-vulnerable, sensitive states we find ourselves in when grieving.

    I have a ‘friend’ who I don’t even bother trying this with now, knowing it will only net me more self-centered, dismissive histrionics from her end. I learned this in part through sending her extremely thoughtful, personalized, empathetic cards for each of her own significant losses, including annual Death Anniversary acknowledgments and other personal occasions (like her birthdays), yet only ONE time over the years (just for Christmas) received anything reciprocal back for my OWN personally important dates and milestones…and despite gentle, timely reminders. With her, everything is a “contest” she is compelled to ‘win,’ no matter the cost to our relationship. I figure she’s like this with everybody, so I shouldn’t take it terribly personally. Still, it sucks.

    Sadly, many folks today are just “me-me-me” focused and painfully self-UNaware, and it’s an additionally traumatic experience to unexpectedly suffer their habitual egotism whenever we are at our most frail. Now I’ll only give these types a couple of chances to redeem themselves before I write them off as mere “acquaintances,” not those I can count on to be there for me when I really need them. As they wisely say, death (or any kind of loss) rewrites your address book.

    • Litsa  August 9, 2016 at 11:07 pm Reply

      Well said, Deb!!

  27. Jen Kidwell  August 8, 2016 at 10:47 am Reply

    Ok, I have to post.
    There are a lot of people saying “perfect” etc.
    And I have been on both sides of this.
    If the friend reaches out and you reject it so many times, why WOULDN’T they assume you want some space?
    (And Gloria, your friend who sends ‘Thinking of you’ and ‘Miss you’ messages IS trying! I’m sorry they’re not asking EXACTLY what you want them to, but c’mon. Really. How are they to know unless you tell them?)
    From what is described in the letter above, it’s kind of an impossible scenario for the ‘disappearing friend’. You’re kind of expecting some mind-reading here. And that’s just not realistic.
    As I said, I have been on both sides of this. And yes, sometimes it is very very hard to ask for what you need. People are not very good at doing that. Especially women. We expect people (especially in heterosexual relationships) to ‘just know’ what we want/need/require. But people DON’T. And I really no longer think it’s realistic to expect someone to ‘just know’.
    People are very very different – not only in their ways of thinking, but also in their ways of grieving. People need different things. It is also not realistic to expect everyone to think the same way you do. Do you realize that part of what you are asking your friend to do is see through the fact that you don’t really mean what you say? How will the friend be able to tell the difference between this and when you do?

    I know grieving is/can be extremely painful. But expecting someone to read your mind or automatically ‘just know’ what you need is only setting yourself up for more pain.

    • Litsa  August 8, 2016 at 11:43 am Reply

      Hi Jen, Thanks for your comment. I am actually a little surprised that it read to you the way it did, as I wrote it feeling EXACTLY the opposite. I wrote it from the perspective that I (as the person grieving) am equally responsible for the problems in the friendship because I don’t know what I need, don’t always know how to articulate it, etc. My goal was to say, “I want to be better about that so you don’t have to be a mind reader, and if you could cut me some slack that would be great too”. Our whole website is dedicated to and founded on the premise that we all grieve differently, which is why you have to speak up about your needs. And it is why it is important to know that people grieving often don’t mean what they say, not because they are lying, but because they don’t know what they need. If they did life would be much easier. So it really takes equal parts- trying to, as a griever, figure that out and be honest about. But also as a friend being understanding that it isn’t easy to do that. I certainly don’t think a friend should be a mind reader. Having also been on both sides of this, as a friend and a professional, my goal was to say communication is hard and so both parties need to be thoughtful. Sorry that isn’t what came through to you reading it.

  28. gloria  July 6, 2016 at 12:51 pm Reply

    I was looking for something to send to my cousin, who was with me when I found out my Laura had passed, to maybe help her to guide in how to just talk to me, and came upon this letter. I’m afraid to send it, I feel she might be insulted, because for the last year, she has sent, called, with “thinking of you”, “miss you” messages, I’m pretty sure she thinks she has shown me support by doing that. But never has she asked me “how are you??” or mentioned Laura’s name! Random Facebook posts don’t count from the person who was with me when I found out (I was in CO and had to fly home to IL). I know she doesn’t know what to say, but how about saying that???? Not even a call/text on the anniversary, though I got a card a few days later with an “article” she came upon, that I’m sure, is supposed to make it all good for me, once I read it!!!! Am I too harsh, can I even forgive, maybe she is the friend I don’t really need in my life anymore, but then I feel I should tell her that. I am going to read this letter over and decide. As good as it is, maybe I need to craft my own version. Thank you Litsa & Eleanor for this website.

    • Shelly  July 6, 2016 at 10:25 pm Reply

      I have the same exact situation except it is my sister. I have not heard from her since my 16 year old son died other than for her to invite me to my niece’s birthday party. I have not heard from my mother or several other family members either…. and a random text that says “thinking of you” or a ‘Like’ on Facebook just seems so empty. I have been considering crafting my own version of this letter as well. I am worried that maybe they don’t want to be a part of my life any longer. It is just so hurtful to not only grieve the death of my son but also grieve the loss of my relationship with family members as well. It’s hard to comprehend why they’ve decided to avoid me instead of support me. I am sure you feel the same way… just know you are not alone. I suppose some people just don’t know what to do… but it’s not like we are experts.

      • Gloria  July 10, 2016 at 9:59 pm

        I always go with “they don’t know what to say”, but how about just saying THAT?? I think, after a year people just don’t get out, assume we “have gone on with our lives (like we will ever?!?) so they just say nothing. I’ve kind of given up on those people, & have found new people who get it!

  29. Erica  June 18, 2016 at 8:22 pm Reply

    This is right on!

  30. Katie Wells  June 17, 2016 at 3:49 am Reply

    If this friend hasn’t supported you and cared for you why are you asking her to step up now best thing is to look to those who have supported you and keep,them close don’t apologies for other people’s inadequaces

    • Litsa  June 17, 2016 at 8:56 am Reply

      For me, it is because I know that many people just don’t know what to say or do. They are well intentioned and thing “giving space” or “privacy” is the right thing. Some people are wonderful friends, just not in every situation, and that’s okay. I wrote this post long after the two devastating losses that impacted me, and long after one of the friends who “disappeared” and I reconnected. She remains one of my closest, dearest friends who has supported me through so much in life and we can actually laugh now about what a friend-failure she was then, and also about how I wasn’t making it easy AT ALL. It wasn’t just her inadequacies, it was the fact that I was being closed, jaded, entitled, a total flake and a million other difficult things. If I couldn’t have owned my part in it and she couldn’t have owned her part I am sure we never would have been able to reconnect and move forward. I realize we were both very lucky to be able to do that.

      • Yam Kahol  June 17, 2016 at 11:52 am

        And even though I identify with the writer of the letter, I’m also afraid to say I identify with the receiver. Before I had had any experience of a devastating loss I ended up sort of moving away from a friend who lost her mum. I felt bad for her but just didn’t know what to say or do. I didn’t know how to be around her and I didn’t know how to cope with her sadness and grief that she carried with her for what, at the time I thought, was a long time. I didn’t know how to change how I was reacting. Now, unfortunately, I’ve gained the same experience she has gained from losing a parent. And I actually now actively seek out people who know loss and have experienced grief. I can be with my friend now and rest with her sorrow and grief. I hope she forgives me for not being near her in the first year just and that she understands it was what it was. Just as I too try to see my friends who struggle to know how to be round me.
        That’s how I see it.

  31. Vicki  June 16, 2016 at 7:12 pm Reply

    For someone who lost their loved one in “a terrorist attack” (the gov’t insisted on calling it that for months after it first happened) the idea of picking anything back up after the people in question clearly DIDN’T make even “a few efforts at the beginning,” just ran the other way as fast as they could go the very first time they heard of it, the letter feels like a laugh and not a funny one.
    I remember losing my temporary job position bc of how the supervisor reacted to the news one day and then the NEXT day no longer needed me and neither did any OTHER Temporary Jobs and decided they were NEVER going to need me again.
    That’s all I’m going to say about it, except that if it weren’t for Richard, my daughter’s godfather who helped me out (and didn’t even fire me when my brother went to Iraq and I completely fell apart one day, after making the mistake of walking past a news selling bin that was showing giant fires all over Iraq and couldn’t help losing my composure,) I probably never would have gotten another job. Richard wasn’t related to me but he’s my daughter’s godfather as chosen by her dad in his Will and he’s also a Vietnam Veteran, who thinks media are idiots about how they cover wars, “especially if they expect to do that and then act surprised when family members of soldiers become excessively concerned about it.”
    I simply couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t get a job right after it happened bc of what that supervisor did and couldn’t get employed until Richard offered me something in June of 2002, nine months later. Then in 2003 I thought I was going to lose another family member in Iraq, and I had nothing left to be able to handle any more violent deaths. I couldn’t even handle the possibility that it MIGHT happen. My brother wanted to go because he thought doing so was some way of avenging what had happened. I couldn’t talk him out of going if I tried but I didn’t try that hard.
    People seem to not want ANYthing to do with you if you lose a loved one to homicide, they act like it’s a gd contagion that they’ll catch via airborne vector, like if you breathe on them they’ll catch it. That’s how some of them act.
    They also act that way about suicides and even overdose deaths. As a paramedic I’ve seen lots of OD deaths. I never met so many judgmental people in my life as I have being a paramedic. I met one just yesterday. I find them annoying since our captain is exactly opposite of that and tells us not to judge people, while this person’s handing them out like he has a Judgment Pez dispenser and popping them out all over the scene.

    • Kellly  February 6, 2019 at 10:32 am Reply

      Viki, I know this is late to comment on what you said, but I was really touched by what you said about what happened to you. The way you were treated was horrible and I’m sorry for that for you. However, I also noticed that you’re a paramedic, which tells me what a strong person you were/are/have become, and your understanding and empathy for others shows in your comments. Sometimes people end up growing through their pain and become strong enough to acknowledge their grief and be able to empathize with others. You seem to me to be like that.
      I’m very sorry for your losses and how horrible it was for you to have so many major things thrown at you during a very hard time. In spite of everything, you have persevered.

  32. Robyn Gabe  June 16, 2016 at 11:25 am Reply

    This letter is perfect! If the recipient does not respond they are not worth thinking about. I could not have composed anything better. This letter speaks my mind, and I may even send my own version out to some family members.

  33. Robin  June 15, 2016 at 7:23 pm Reply

    I have had the experience of a really close friend to disappear when my precious boyfriend died a year & a half ago. I don’t feel as magnanimous as this letter writer. I can now see a pattern of their disappearing on other occasions when things got sad.

    I’ve also ended a couple of other relationships in my grief. Right or wrong, I chose to end them. Grief can be very isolating. I feel so changed, different, & also less tolerant of being in relationships that are not a two – way street.

    • Litsa  June 15, 2016 at 9:36 pm Reply

      Ah, don’t worry Robin, as the author of this letter I am with you that it is not appropriate to hit the reset button with all friends. Sometimes it is moments like this that you realize that maybe you have been in a one-way relationship, an emotionally manipulative relationship, etc. We have written about when it might be a good idea to cut certain people out of your life here, and talked about how to recognize that some friends might be okay for certain things but not as good grief support here. Also, we have written about how to rebuild your support system and making “grief friends” after a loss. Last but not least, we have written about how grief can change your priorities here, which can make you feel isolated and disconnected from old friends. Hope some of those might help with what you’re going through.

      • sandi  December 2, 2016 at 3:48 am

        Dear Litsa,
        Your letter, and this post, are a great comfort to me, as I have experienced what Robin has. People I thought were my friends used me to do large favors for them in some of the worst times of my grief; I was trying to honor my son by picking up the shawl of Acts of Kindness that he willingly wore through his life. Instead, I got used as a tool that which I know in hindsight because those assumed friends became ‘deeply hurt & crushed’ when I stopped doing for them as I tried to bury my grief. I appreciate the extra references you included in your post; I’m going there now. Thank you.

    • Tootie  June 16, 2016 at 3:08 pm Reply

      Robin – I agree… looking back at the last 40 yrs, my “friend” is more about what I can do for her instead of a give/take/50-50 or anything remotely close to that in support for me.

      • Litsa  June 17, 2016 at 9:08 am

        Ah Tootie, yes this is definitely the type of relationship you want to be cautious of. The sad reality is that some people are ‘givers’, some are ‘takers’ and when a giver and taker are in a friendship or other relationship together it can become incredibly one-sided and draining. This may be one of those moments when you recognize something that has been a chronic issue. I am so sorry you have recognized this about your friend. It can really be a secondary loss when we lose friends as a result of a death, even when we know perhaps it was for the best.

  34. Tootie  June 15, 2016 at 7:05 pm Reply

    Absolutely perfect! I had two very dear friends for decades. One got married, moved, and changed her phone number without telling me not long after I lost my beloved husband. The second friend did stay around longer, just long enough for me to be supportive of her, emotionally and physically, carrying her through 5 years that included a bloody divorce, disability lawsuits, and getting her once again financially and physically back up on her feet. Once she was stable and in a good place, she jumped back into the dating pool, unfriended me on Facebook, and stopped taking my calls, emails, etc.

  35. Courage  June 15, 2016 at 6:37 pm Reply

    Thanks, Litsa, for this letter. It’s a double whammy to lose someone to death, and someone else to disappearance just when you need them the most. Two of my closest friends disengaged from me last year, shortly after my most beloved cat died. I was two years out from a brain injury that in some ways, radically changed my being and behaviour. I leaned hard on these friends for several months; for a time, our relations were not as reciprocal as they’d once been. It nearly did me in to lose three of my primary bonds in a two-month period. I’ve thought and *thought* about trying to engage with these two people again; one seems potentially open to restored contact; the other does not. A second rejection would hurt too much … I’ve just recently lost two more loved ones to death. Too many losses, too few bonds remaining. ~ There are so many avenues to loss and grief and sometimes the ones closest to us are precisely the ones who fall away when we need them the most. I remind myself that something may be happening in their lives that I know nothing about … and one person’s grief can so easily strike the grief-strings in another’s heart to an intolerable degree. We often don’t know what to do, so we do nothing (which is sometimes the best thing … simply to be present with one in mourning means so much), or we run away. I sometimes think that, in the long term, a death is easier to integrate than a rejection … Death is final, and the person is unequivocally *gone*. With a rejection, the person is still present, and it can be an agony to encounter him/her, as I did recently, at another mutual friend’s deathbed. It was clear that this person was still closed to me. God, it hurt. There are few rejections more painful than those by longtime friends. This is a topic that we need to discuss …. so again, thank you. Wishing you a close and steady circle of friends around you.

    • Deb  June 15, 2016 at 7:24 pm Reply

      I just wanted to say that I can hugely relate to what you said, and I feel as much compassion you as I do for myself, having gone through similar things…and yes, including the loss of support over the deaths of beloved fur-kids. And I agree, too, that this is a topic that bears more discussion. Thank you so much for sharing.

      What a fantastically-composed letter! So open and honest, yet very tough to put together when beset with a “grief-mind”! Thank you, thank you, thank you, for such a wonderful contribution!! I assume any of us could use it as a template, as need may be??

    • S Busher  June 16, 2016 at 3:40 am Reply

      I must say, too, that my heart breaks for you and your losses, especially of your beloved furry friend. I met grief for the first time when my first “living away from home” cat passed away suddenly. My world fell apart. Four months later my mom had a sudden, devastating stroke she nearly didn’t survive, my second cat declined and we had to make that agonizing decision to end his suffering. Twelve days later, we had to do the same for his sweet little buddy. She missed him so much and declined rapidly in those 12 days. I didn’t think my heart could take anymore…we don’t have children and put all of our love into our furry kids. Then my mom had another stroke eight months later and passed away (age 72). I’m dealing with catch-up grief according to my counselor.

      I apologize for rambling on about myself. I just wanted you to know you aren’t alone in grieving a beloved pet. Wishing you much healing through this difficult journey. ❤️

  36. Kim  June 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm Reply

    That was perfect!! All the words I needed and I need my old friends who disappeared to know as well. Thank you.

  37. Yam Kahol  June 15, 2016 at 6:05 pm Reply

    Dear L,
    What a wonderful letter.
    I did actually get advised to write such a letter to a former (I think) best friend. I was hopefully that things would change but I’m still waiting. It’s so hard. It’s hard to keep your end of the bargain up, to keep trying to communicate, when you’re also grieving. I wished I had added a P.S. to my letter – please ask about my Dad.
    Thank you for this and for sharing with us that we are not alone.

Leave a Comment

YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.