THE BLOG
11/17/2009 11:49 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

A final disappointment by a friend

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

My friend has been going through marriage problems ever since I've known her (13 years now). I have been there for her when she needed someone to talk to. When the problems got too big to deal with, I suggested counseling since I didn't want their marriage problems to affect the friendship that I have with her husband too and that my husband has with them.

Now, my dilemma is that I personally have gone through a very stressful period in my life with the loss of several family members. I really don't want to talk about all her stresses anymore! I know she feels hurt by this. But the main issue revolves around the funeral of one of my family members. My daughter and my friend, at the funeral home, exchanged words and my daughter ended up in tears out in the parking lot, crying over my friend's insensitivity. It was over a picture taken several years ago and my daughter was joking around with my friend about it because she had hidden it behind one of the pictures that just happened to be at the funeral home.

My friend snapped at my daughter and just walked away from her. When I found my daughter crying in the parking lot I couldn't believe my friend acted the way she did. I started to feel that she wasn't there to support my family in our loss but that she is so self-absorbed in her own misery that she just is not seeing things clearly. When I told her how upset my daughter was about their exchange she just said that my daughter was in the wrong. I know I would feel badly if the tables were turned and I had upset her child.

Can I get over this? Should I even try? She is acting like I owe her an apology. I have extended opportunities to reconnect but I find she wants to stay in the role of victim and just wants someone there who will pity her. Should I just leave the ball in her court? Please do not use my name if this gets posted. Thank you!

Signed,
Anonymous


ANSWER

Dear Anonymous,

Whenever there's a death in a family, the mourners left behind are usually under considerable stress---especially during the funeral and the days leading up to it. Even if your daughter made a mistake or error in judgment, your friend knew your family was grieving and should have given her some slack. Moreover, she should have done what she could to minimize, rather than add to, your stress. Even if she got angry at the moment, to not forgive you or your daughter afterwards sounds wrong.

As hard as it is to give up a long-term friendship, this isn't the first time your friend has disappointed you. In this instance, since she rebuffed your efforts to reconnect, I would definitely leave the ball in her court.

I'm sorry for your recent losses, which had to have been compounded by this unfortunate incident.

Best,
Irene

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Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Her new book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, was recently published by Overlook Press. She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog and at PsychologyToday.com.