So I lost my husband Mark just about 3 months ago. He was only 37, and he fought a battle with cancer for 10 months prior. His birthday is coming up on April 23rd. The Saturday before I wanted to invite a few close friends and family over and have a little party for him. Our closest friends were 2 other married couples. Come to find out, they can't make it to the party because they are all going camping together that weekend. I enjoy camping too, but for some reason me and my son weren't even invited. I wouldn't have come, but to not even be invited just confirms my feeling that they don't really feel like I'm part of the group anymore. Also it seems kind of insensitive to plan something like that on Mark's bday, especially with it being the first since his passing. So I won't have any of my so called best friends there on what will likely be a really hard day for me. I sent a group text letting them know how I feel, but keeping it respectful. I guess I'll just have to find new friends. What would you do in this situation? We all go to the same church, so completely avoiding them isn't going to be possible. I also feel like I should mention that the last camping trip they all went on, we were invited, but didn't go because we had already had plans with my sister who lives several hours away. So maybe some how they got the idea that we aren't into camping?
Were they aware that it was Mark's birthday? They may have forgotten. Also- you mention that you were invited on their last camping trip- was that when Mark was still alive, or just you and your son? If the latter, maybe they really did figure that because you turned them down, it wasn't something you wanted to do anymore.
I think most people just don't know how to behave around the newly-bereaved. I don't think that losing a loved one even makes you a genius on the subject- we all react differently to the loss so what makes one person feel better may depress another. So, sometimes well-meaning people say things that sound stupid or hurtful or maybe they avoid us because they're not sure what to say or do. Sometimes, as you did, you need to gently let them know what works or doesn't work. Their answer to your text should be a helpful cue. I hope you and your son are back camping with them soon.
I'm sorry that you have joined "our club" and have arrived here. But, I believe here is the best place to be. Here you can grieve, vent, rage, ask questions, and
receive support. We need support and perhaps your idea of the Birthday Party was a way to honor his memory and having friends attend might provide support. Folks who have not lost a partner have no idea what we are going through. They have no idea of our needs. Close friends want to help but are ill prepared for what they see us going through. Some try to empathize by saying that "I know how you feel, I lost an aunt or uncle, once. I honestly had one man tell me that he knew exactly what I was going through because he'd just lost his dog!.. Self protection is a primal safety device. Presenting our back instead of our front to some force, etc. Withdrawal is a way to protect one's self. Some folks just have no idea what to say or how to act when they see the agony we are in.
Try not to be angry with them. People want to help and when they say "Oh, I'm sorry," or "How are you doing?" Please take that at surface value, they mean well and a simple "I'm taking it a day at a time," is enough. A retort such as I just lost my xxxx How do you think I'm feeling - jerk, is really not right.
Especially early on, many of us celebrate birthdays, anniversaries of the wedding, the death, Christmas, New Years, Mother's Day, Father's day, some of them or only a few of them. It is entirely dependent upon the individual and, I believe their upbringing. My first year, every single one of those occasions was simply too painful to even think about. I'm now four years out and I have decided that I wanted to celebrate or honor Susan on the anniversary of our wedding. I sit in the afternoon sun, open our wedding album, and talk to her as if she were sitting against me as I turn the pages. I tease her about the story behind each of the pictures. When I've gone through the album, I tell her I love her, I miss her, and I thank her for saying Yes, and making the past 35 years the best of my life.
Take care and ((((HUGS))))
Aw Frank, now you have made me cry.... I like your idea though.
I usually go out to eat with friends and family on Lupe's birthday and the day she passed We have a Mass intention on the Sunday closest to the day she passed. On our anniversary, I do one random act of kindness for every year we would be married. This November it will be 15.
If, and only if, you feel up to it, maybe talk personally with the person you are closest to in that group of friends, something like "I know we didn't make the last camping trip but I and my son are still really interested in being involved in future trips. [You could add -- In fact, I think it would help my son to continue doing normal, fun things.] Can we help plan the next one?"
Agree with the previous comment that they might not have even been aware of the birthday date -- I don't focus on friend's birthdays unless I get an invitation.It would be different, of course, if you all had a long-standing tradition of celebrating each others bdays.
When my father in law passed away my mother in law went through the exact same thing. There was 5 couples in total, since the kids were young they all camped together, christmas together etc. When the kids grew up the couples went to Hawaii every year together. After Bob died, my mother in law was no longer invited. She finally was mad enough one day and called & asked why. They said she made an odd number, & it just wasn't the same without Bob. (He was the the fun one). Yes, she had to make all new friends.
Doug died 4 years as of May 2017. I had to make all new friends. My best friend died 2 years before Doug, but one friend stayed my friend. Other than that, because you aren't the same, and you aren't "over it it" by 2 - 3 months they don't want to be near you. Humanity can be very cold.
Advice I wish I was given: Only confide in people who you truly believe care about you (1 or 2), confide in only people who have had a spouse die. Any events that mean something to you (death anniversary, birthdays, christmas) do something just for you (& kids if you have them) expect no one else to care. I went to a bereavement group & she said to tell people, but the fact is they don't care. One thing I heard "People aren't against you, they are just for themselves" is so true, & I have never forgotten it. I just learned it too late. I so regret confiding to people like the bereavement group said to do.
it's possible they think your not as into camping as they are. I have also come to realize that people feel awkward towards their friends when one of them passes away. It seem like they don't know how to talk to the one who s still here. It's strange. They feel awkward and we alone. If only the two could come together.
thanks for this long, eloquent story about how relationships change after the death of a loved one. I'm glad you had so many supportive friends and family members around in Mike's last days and for the funeral even though things have changed since then.
It made me realize that the relationships I have with my late husband Ron's family have also shifted somewhat. His stepsister was fantastic and very supportive during his last days and now I'm less inclined to call her. She's a wonderful, sweet person but I feel like we've lost that link in common.
Same with his kids (both over 40 so hardly "kids"). If I were in the city where either of them lived, I'd certainly make some time to see them, but what we have in common is more in the past, and will become more distant with time. Ron's brother and SIL are still in frequent contact with me but that's because, in accordance with Ron's wishes, I'm sending them $1,000/month for 24 months. Wonder what will happen when that ends!
So, sometimes we need to forge ahead with new relationships when the old ones don't work anymore. I'm fortunate- I had quite a few friendships that didn't involve the two of us as a couple since I'm active in my church, Toastmasters and the local garden club. This relationships have barely changed and I'm grateful for that.