A friend with MS

26 Sep 2019

My friend was diagnosed with MS in 1996 and I visited her as soon as I heard to see how she was coping. Not long after, her husband left her and her nine-year-old son to cope on their own. She was duly upset and furious with him for the betrayal and relied on her friends even more.

Two of her friends lived quite close and would see her often. I was a friend, but not as close as them either physically or emotionally.

Accordingly I took a back seat when it came to visits. I had an almost atavistic response to her illness: on some level I thought it might affect me, although it's not contagious, so always found reasons to avoid seeing her. However, generously, she still thought of me as a friend but I could only face visiting her with others to give me support. I'm ashamed to say I last saw her in 2011 although my subconscious was sending me messages about seeing her soon, which I ignored owing to my fear of the situation. Now her son informs me that she's died and that I will be most welcome to come to her funeral and wake, which I think is very generous of him too.

I just wondered if anyone out there has had a similar response to the serious illness of a friend and how you reacted? I was like this with my mother as I was scared stiff when she was ill and found it hard to visit her too but steeled myself to see her.

I suppose it's a fear of facing up to mortality and in my mum's case watching the seemingly settled structure of my life come apart as her illness took over.

I really don't know why I react in this way and it is easier to talk here about it than anyone who knew my friend. Any help would be appreciated.


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