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Losing friends when you are ill

(21 Posts)
Judy54 Mon 22-Jul-19 13:28:38

My GH has had health problems for the last 5 years and it has turned our life upside down. What we have to deal with is bad enough but losing long term friends when you have a chronic illness is devastating. It's not their lives that have changed but ours and we can no longer do the things we used to do with them. Before illness struck we had a full and active social life so we have not only lost the life we had but a number of friends too.

I know it is hard for other people to understand what we are going through, the endless hospital appointments, living with daily pain, medication which can affect what you eat and drink, constant tiredness (not just the GH but me too). My GH has not changed as a person; he is still the same loving caring friend that he has always been. A phone call, a note even an email to say hello how are you doing would be appreciated but never comes.

We are sad and disappointed that these friends have chosen to no longer be part of our lives and we now concentrate on our own needs.

What experience do any of you have about friends walking away when you are ill?

dragonfly46 Mon 22-Jul-19 13:35:22

Judy this resounds with me. I was diagnosed with breast cancer last November and I have noticed that a small number of long term friends have avoided me. Apparently this is common as they are somehow frightened it may rub off on them. Another friend warned me about this.

BlueBelle Mon 22-Jul-19 13:40:25

What’s a GH please ?

Septimia Mon 22-Jul-19 13:40:46

It can be difficult for people when friends are ill. Often they don't know how to react. It's the same when someone dies. Nonetheless, it makes them look like fair-weather friends.

I have a couple of friends with health problems at the moment and I'm trying to make sure that I keep in touch with them and give them some support. It's not always easy to know what to say, but it's more important to say something.

GrannySomerset Mon 22-Jul-19 13:43:38

We have the same experience as DH’s Parkinson’s gets worse and his social skills diminish, and a once busy social life is vanishing. We are at the stage when all the impetus needs to come from me, and I find it exhausting. Not sure what to do about it, though.

MissAdventure Mon 22-Jul-19 13:47:36

Yes, I totally understand the dwindling of friends.
I'm afraid I don't feel very charitable about people feeling awkward, I just think a bit of practical help would have been nice..
It upsets me to even think about it, and has tarnished my opinion on the few people I counted as friends.

pinkquartz Mon 22-Jul-19 13:54:07

Septima why not just talk to your friends in the same ways as before? Your friends are still the same people.

sadly after almost three decades of severe illness and disability I now have only two close friends.
Two other friends that I was very fond of have only recently become distant and it is because their lives have changed.
I feel very hurt and lonely but there is nothing i can do.

When I became a wheelchair user I too saw friends literally disappear because they didn't want a wheelchair using friend. I was very shocked but some people do behave as if it is isn't. I actually had it said to my face by one person that they did not know anyone in a wheelchair and that wasn't going to change!

Previously I had been super active so I guess the contrast was just too much.

What happened to me scared people........

What I like is when a person talks to me and not about the illness. I am still a person, I am not just a broken body!

Luckygirl Mon 22-Jul-19 14:11:09

I understand that loss of friendships when someone is progressively ill. Some of our closest friends have dropped away. It is very sad - but I guess that is just how it is. When your friends find out that you can no longer go out for meals or other outings and that inviting them for the same is awkward, they soon drop away.

The trick is not to resent it and keep smiling. Just like that.

BlueBelle Mon 22-Jul-19 14:22:03

Can I ask again what a GH is I m presuming this thread is about your husband but what’s the G geriatric, gorgeous, I really find these darned things puzzling or is it an illness like PD
Friends if real should always be there for you

Charleygirl5 Mon 22-Jul-19 14:36:19

I agree with BlueBelle I also have not got a clue what GH means.

sodapop Mon 22-Jul-19 14:50:56

Neither have I - Gorgeous Hunk ?

Judy54 Mon 22-Jul-19 14:58:10

Should have put DH Darling/Dear Husband or OH other half. As I have gone for GH will say gorgeous Husband as definitely not geriatric! Look at the list of acronyms here on the website for further explanations.

MissAdventure Mon 22-Jul-19 14:59:49

Gorgeous hunk sounds just fine. smile

BlueBelle Mon 22-Jul-19 15:25:20

I did look on the list Judy but GH isn’t there that s why I asked

Judy54 Mon 22-Jul-19 15:33:00

Thanks Bluebelle I think I picked up GH from another thread rather than the list of acronyms. What is PD?

MissAdventure Mon 22-Jul-19 15:36:05

Parkinson's disease, I think?
I never know what all of the initials mean. smile

paddyann Mon 22-Jul-19 15:41:11

My lovely daughter has experienced this ,she's almost housebound with a variety of conditions ,Fibromyalgia and hyper joint mobility syndrome amongst them. She used to be part fo a group that did loads of things ,days out ,parties ,fund raising events etc.Now she barely sees them but sees all the posts they put on social media and she is very hurt that they cant find some way to include her .Thankfully not all her friends have disappeared so she still has some who have had their own health issues in the past,who will happily pop in for a coffee or a chat because she was there for them .People can be very strange ,I well remember when my baby died people I'd known since school crossed the street to avoid me ,in the main they just dont know how to respond to difficult times .Maybe you could invite them to your home for tea or dinner...even a takeaway dinner ,just so your OH can have some company .Hope it works out for you

grandtanteJE65 Mon 22-Jul-19 15:47:22

The charitable view is to say that your friends are embarrassed and don't know whether they should stay in touch or not.

Right now, you are probably too tired and hurt to be charitable, which I fully understand.

Have you tried contacting some of these friends and inviting them for a cuppa, or telling them that you miss them?

These days IMO people are afraid to drop in and afraid to offer help for fear of offending - you have to ask if you want anything.

Grandma70s Mon 22-Jul-19 15:56:10

This rings bells with me. One friend has almost completely gone from my life, presumably because I and no longer able to do things with her. It must be that, because I have not changed in any way except physically. I am no longer active, except in the brain (I hope!). She was a good friend for many years and I do feel shocked and surprised by her desertion. She is a few years younger than I am, single, without responsibilities, still very active, still drives - and has never once offered to help me get to a medical appointment.

I am lucky to have a couple of friends who stick by me through thick and thin.

“You find out who your friends are” may be a cliché, but it’s true

Lazigirl Mon 22-Jul-19 16:09:26

I think this is quite common as we get older, and social networks do change for example after retirement, poor health and loss of a partner. I always think most people have more friends than I have, but in reality many older people only have one or two intimate friends, and sadly some have none. It's a serious concern because friends make us happy, and I think it was a dreadful thing for a "friend" to say about wheelchair users pinkquartz. I wish we could all be more sensitive to those in your situation judy and your DD paddyann and make more effort. Your posts have made me more aware.

Ellianne Mon 22-Jul-19 16:17:47

I think this is an area where social media is invaluable. There are lots of support groups where we can chat with other people in similar circumstances and although this doesn't replace real friendships, it certainly helps.
I have been unwell for in recent years and have become far more sympathetic towards other peoples' problems. It isn't until it happens to you that you really understand what it's like, so I don't blame some friends for keeping their distance.