Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

What has happened to an old friend

(22 Posts)
blueskies Fri 24-Jan-20 11:01:29

I will call him "John" a friend I have known for thirty years. He has no living family. When he retired he moved back to his deceased parents home which is two hours away by train. We kept in touch by telephone and weekends in each others homes about twice a year. Latterly we met halfway for lunch but with both of us getting older it was telephone contact only. Last summer it was obvious he was becoming forgetful and he said that he had someone visiting to help with paperwork. bills etc. Then both phones landline and mobile were out of action and there was no Christmas card this year. I am quite concerned and have tried various ways to find out what has happened-- he may be in a care home.I have tried GP receptionist -can't help as not NOK and confidentiality. AgeConcernUK, Social Services, local carers,parish council, police neighbourhood watch also say not known or data protection. This is so sad as I don't know if he is alive or dead. What can I do?

Urmstongran Fri 24-Jan-20 11:15:28

Could you drop a line to a neighbour voicing your concerns?

Nannarose Fri 24-Jan-20 11:25:29

How difficult and worrying for you - I gather you are not in a position to drive up there and knock on the door?

I was just having a similar conversation with a friend, saying how I wished next of kin would go through the address book and let people know.

My suggestion is (apologies if you have done this already):

Write John a letter, and indicate that you wish he or someone caring for him would let you know his situation. Give as many contacts (email, phone etc) as you can, and enclosed a stamped addressed envelope.
Address it to John Smith (or anyone concerned with his care) so that anyone can open it.
On the back of the envelope write you address so it can be returned.

Anyone popping in (even an estate agent) can deal with that. You may still not hear back, but I think that makes it most likely that someone will let you know.

I do feel for you, I have kept up with some of my parents' friends, and find contact dropping off, but they are not people I am immediately so concerned about. I do hope you hear.

Melanie61 Fri 24-Jan-20 12:18:06

Another thought, could you address a letter enquiring about John to his close neighbours. They may help?

Melanie61 Fri 24-Jan-20 12:20:14

Sorry Urmstongran!! I’m your echo🤣

Bellanonna Fri 24-Jan-20 12:23:07

I think that might be the answer, writing to a couple of neighbours (allowing for one not replying) and adding a S.a.e.
I’m sure you would hear something although they might not have details as to exactly where he’s gone. Give it a go and it should help to put your mind at rest.

Chestnut Fri 24-Jan-20 12:26:04

The mobile phone being out of action might indicate that he's died. I would have thought he could keep that in a care home? Can you contact his local Registrar to ask whether they have a death registration? With everything being computerised it shouldn't take too long for them to check. You need to give the last date you heard from him to the first date you realised he was gone. Somewhere in that time frame. I hope you get answers.

Missfoodlove Fri 24-Jan-20 12:51:41

Have you checked online in his local paper under death notices?

EllanVannin Fri 24-Jan-20 13:08:53

You can google his area for recent deaths.

Grandma2213 Sat 25-Jan-20 02:41:15

blueskies This is so sad for you and I hope that you find out one way or another what has happened. I feel for you as I have recently lost a friend who I only kept in touch with through emails. By fluke I found out her address on her last email and eventually wrote to her there. Sadly she had died but her step daughter kindly replied to my letter with details. It then occurred to me that should anything happen to me my 'online' friends and contacts would never know. I am considering making a list for my children to contact in that situation.
I guess I should include Gransnet details though I am not a regular poster. I have often wondered about posters who 'disappear'.

cornergran Sat 25-Jan-20 06:53:27

I’m so sorry you’re in this situation blueskies. I can’t add anything helpful I’m afraid other than to say I would think writing is a good idea as is an on line search of notices in the local paper. You sound very worried and I hope you can get some peace of mind. This has made me think about a ‘just in case’ contact list.

TerryM Sat 25-Jan-20 07:12:52

I was so grateful that a friend of my mother's had organised a list of people to be advised of her passing
She passed in her mid nineties and I was sent a notification that she had passed .
I had spoken to her just a couple of weeks earlier .
Being a cognitive elderly person she was quite aware of people just not responding to her letters. She wanted to make sure people knew she had gone. Her daughter and husband had already predeceased her . She had no close family at all.

Humbertbear Sat 25-Jan-20 08:22:42

We have had a similar situation with a cousin of my husband. She lived in Switzerland. Her landline and mobile have been disconnected and we can only assume she has either moved into a nursing home or died. She had two sons but we don’t know how to contact them and assume they didn’t bother to go through her address book. A very old friend died last week but we had become pen friends and I only learnt of her death because another friend posted a notice on my friends Facebook page. In this age where it is so easy to contact strangers all over the world, it would seem that it is difficult to stay in touch with friends and family

Scentia Sat 25-Jan-20 08:52:43

In a similar situation I traced someone through Facebook. I found the village they lived in it was called ‘spotted...&@%#.’ I then put a post on there asking if anyone knew of their whereabouts. I did get many responses.

MerylStreep Sat 25-Jan-20 09:03:51

Just what I was going to say. I know FB isn't always a force for good, but it's marvellous for finding people.

harrigran Sat 25-Jan-20 09:24:42

You could speak to the police in your friend's area and express concern for the welfare of your friend. They may not be able to give details but will probably be able to confirm he is safe.
I watched a documentary about a retired gentleman who was groomed and murdered, people on theur own can become a target.

blueskies Sat 25-Jan-20 10:32:50

Thank you for your replies. I have tried most suggestions without success. I posted on the local Facebook page but it was taken down within minutes and I was told I should never post that on the internet as John seemed vulnerable. The police ( John was a member of neighbourhood watch ) could not help. I gave my telephone number to the GPs but was told they would only contact me if John gave permission. I don't know the neighbours although they would have seen me there over the years so I will try a letter.We always said I should have their number just in case but never got round to it. Apart from an old school friend in Canada ( no contact) I am the last remaining friend. Very sad but it has taught me a lesson-- I have written a list of contacts for my family....

Chestnut Sat 25-Jan-20 11:33:25

I still say you should try his local registrar to see if there is a death registration. At least it would clarify whether he had died or not. Newspapers, Facebook etc. are not going to give a definitive answer because he was on his own and it's possible no-one posted anything about him. I hope you find some answers.

Fiachna50 Sat 25-Jan-20 12:42:05

Sadly if someone has died, family no longer seem to go through the address book to let folk know. I've had good friends who have been in hospital or sadly died and Ive never known. I missed one friends funeral as her son never contacted any of her old work colleagues to let them know. We kept in touch as a group for over thirty years and we were so upset to discover her funeral had been months before. However, we do understand family are distraught, but it's such a shame. I might make a list of who I want contacted and who I definitely DON'T want contacted. That seems the thing to do.

Fiachna50 Sat 25-Jan-20 12:44:50

Sorry meant to say, I would try writing to the neighbours, or contacting The Salvation Army. Did they not used to do some kind of tracing service?

3nanny6 Sat 25-Jan-20 13:47:43

Blueskies sorry you cannot get a trace on your friend. I do not think you have made it serious enough to the local police in your friends area because they most certainly will do a welfare check on him particularly if you say he is vulnerable and they will ask him to contact you and let you know he is safe. I know because I have resorted to that myself.
Another thing you can try is the Salvation Army you fill in a form and there is a small fee and they go about tracing the person you are looking for.
I do not think facebook is a good idea and anyway if he is rather elderly will he actually use it.
One more thing you can try is land registry that is if he owned his own home. It is possible to go through the register to see if names have changed on deeds. My cousin done this once when one of our elderly aunts went into a nursing home and one family member was trying to get my aunts house, you would be amazed what people do when they think money is going to be available.
Really try to find your friend as someone must know what happened to him it just takes some digging to get to the leads.

shysal Sat 25-Jan-20 15:17:03

Sorry to hear of your dilemma, I hope you will find out what has happened.

I have a typed sheet of useful information for my daughters to refer to if anything happens to me. This has prompted me to add a short list of people to contact in the event of my dying or not being able to contact anyone. Some of the names in my address book or on my phone will mean nothing to them.