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Where did all her friends go?


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I've just spent a lovely weekend Claire who I was glad to find in better form than her recent phone calls suggested I might. Claire lives a 4 hour drive from me so I can't just pop round for a cup of tea whenever I like.

I have however returned angry and upset and wondered if anyone can shed any light on the following. By way of the briefest possible background I need to tell you a few things about Claire.

Claire has remained resolutely single. She has a brother, a sister and fairly elderly parents. Her nearest family member lives 2 hours away. Claire is one of life's truly beautiful people and I mean that in every sense of the word. No night out is complete if she's not there .... you know the type. Claire's friends are her family. She has lived in the same city for about 14 years now (I left there 12 years ago) and she has a core group of 7 friends - male and female - who she does everything with. Claire has an extremely stressful job and pre cancer could be found out every night of the week in a restaurant or a winebar with these friends. Whenever I visited Claire in the past I always felt like I was in a wind tunnel. The phone never stopped ringing, the doorbell was always going and she always had a houseful.

I suppose with hindsight I have noticed that she hasn't spoken about her friends lately but if I'd thought about that I would have assumed it's because she's not going out as much as before. I arrived at her house on Friday night. On Saturday afternoon my sister rang to see how we were and it was then that it dawned on me that that was the first phone call she'd had. I asked after the others (I mean they have been inseparable for years) and she gave me very non-committal answers so I left it.

On Saturday night Claire said she was feeling up to going out and we settled on her local pub. I asked if we'd be meeting any of the others and she said that they'd be away for the Bank Holiday. I suppose I pushed her a tiny bit so she rang one of them (on her mobile)who said that the others were away for the weekend and that she'd just picked up her boyfriend from the train station and they were having a quiet night in.

When we go to the pub - quite late really - Claire went straight to the ladies whilst I went to queue at the bar. As I was standing there 6 of the 7 of Claire's core group walked passed me on their way out of the pub. This included the girl Claire had spoken to and her boyfriend was nowhere to be seen. I put my head down and I don't think they saw me.

I haven't told Claire and I had the hardest time pretending all was fine for the rest of the night. I am so upset for her and now I'm worried about the support she's clearly not getting from those of her friends who are physically closest. She can't have fallen out with all of them. I really feel she's just been "dumped" by them.

Has this happened to anybody else and if so how did you handle it? Is there anything I could do? Should I do anything? I have the phone numbers of a couple of them from when we organised a surprise party for Claire. Should I phone and ask what the hell's going on? Should I phone her family or should I leave well alone. Was I right not to say anything to her? I'm sorry that this is so long but any advice would be mightily appreciated.


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Tough question but I think the most important issue here is that Claire has a constant and consistent support system. This said, I think I would call a few of these friends. They may be scared and not sure what to say or may feel they are intruding on her personal business. Claire is the main issue here.

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Makes me think of people who rent a summer cottage or put in a pool and you can't get rid of them until winter rolls around. My experience has been the opposite. My friends rallyed & took care of our house & garden when we went south for treatments, my inlaws opened their home to us and even welcomed our dog (until he grew) When we arrived home the fridge was stocked with essentials. the house was clean & there were fresh forced bulbs everywhere. I cried for days. And then the food started coming in & me with no appetite!! At least I didn't have to cook for my husband. I try to do a little something for them when I can.

I know the above probably won't help her much but I think those "good friends" need a talking to. Perhaps they are uncomfortable with the disese and need some education. If they continue in that direction I would want to know what was going on.

I do hope she can find comfort from all the wonderful people on this website. They have always opened their hearts to so many. Please tell her to feel free to PM me anytime. Here's to new friends.


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I can somewhat relate to how you feel. My mom is

from a family of 12 at the time of being diagnosed

with lung cancer there were only 9. 8 of the 9 all

lived close with in a 30 minute drive the 1 lives

in New york quite a far distance from Ohio. 5 of

them came to visit right after her diagnosis. 2

never came to visit at all and it took her sister

in NY a few weeks before she even would call. Out

of the 5 that came to visit only 3 of them returned

for other visits which was not very often. The

last few months of her life she only had a phone

call here and there from them. I was moms care

giver and I seen daily how much this hurt her

inside it broke my heart. I do not know why people

change when someone becomes ill. I like Ginny's idea

of calling a few of these friends because Claire

really could use there support. Best of luck, Haylee

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This is all too familiar a story. I like to think that it's discomfort on the part of the absentee person, they don't know what to say,they don't know how to act, or they're just plain scared of someone who's so ill. But I think sometimes it's just thoughtlessness - the out of sight out of mind syndrome.

I thought that my new neighborhood (6 months in a new house) was just great, I was asked to take dinner to my next door neighbor who had kidney cancer and his wife had gone back to work. This is wonderful I thought, caring people who are looking after one another (we had only lived in VT for 15 months at the time). Two weeks after my dinner delivery I was dx and the people on the street disappeared!

Not a soul asked how I was when they saw my husband but 2 years later when my neighbors widow had hip replacement surgery I was again asked to supply dinner!! Which I did willingly but with a tad of resentment thrown in.

Only two of my fledgling friendships endured my cancer and those are women I shall treasure forever.

As Claire's friends are not new ones I'd say give them a call, you don't have to accuse them of neglect right off the bat - maybe they're just being very English (I'm an English transplant)and don't want to intrude - by acting ignorant of their transgressions you may be able to get them to open up about why they've been avoiding her or prod them into being supportive.

Good luck,


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Oh my. I could write at length about this. Short answer...yes, SOME of my friends were like this. BUT several others who were never as close stepped right up to the plate. In this situation with Claire's friends...I WOULD ring a few up and ask how Claire's been doing. Since you are far away you wanted to hear how THEY thought she was doing. Well...they won't now, now, will they? Then you might offer a suggestion as to what may be helpful for Claire. In my case, some of my friends were waiting for me to ask specifically for something or things. I am not that forward a person. Maybe someone needs to be very direct. OR you can tell them you visited and how Claire needs their support right now. OR you actually tell them you SAW them and how hurtful that is. I don't know...but these "friends" need to know. I am not sure of the ages of those we are talking about. If this is a younger crowd I think it probably is hard for them to accept this happening. They need to be educated that is DOES happen and is happening to their good friend.

Well, there will probably be many on the board with differing views, but I feel strongly that these folks need to know. You are such a wonderful friend. BUT you can not shoulder the entire responsibility for Claire. You can do so much. Bless you for that, but others will need to pitch in.

Best of luck with this and a BIG thank you for being such a great support.


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I could talk a lot on this subject as well. Many of our closest friends have been rather scarce. It has taken action on our part to keep many of the relationships going. People just don't seem to know what to do, what to say, etc. It is very uncomfortable for them. Also, I think if they aren't involved, it doesn't seem so real that one of their best friends is very sick.

You really have to ask for help and support from friends even when it isn't your style to do so. It has been very difficult for me and Charlie. But, people usually really do want to help. Take care.

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Well, I'm going to take a little different approach with this. Yes, I think people are uncomfortable about what to do or say, but a lot of times, a group of friends are only friends because they have the same things in common or do the same things. I'm going to guess that these people are afraid they will be asked to DO something to help. Their relationship with Claire was there only because of the activity and the good times. My guess is that there's no place in this group for a sick person.

I know that's not the "see the good in all people approach", and you will probably never know for sure, but that's what I think.

You could always call and ask them what's up, but they would never admit that they don't want to get involved, so I think a call would be a waste of time.

Just my two cents.



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I go along with Peggy. I think the friendships were formed around fun and happy things. As long as that was the way it was, they were steadfast. Now that your friend has cancer, that doesn't fit the "fun and games" image, so they have isolated themselves from her. In all fairness, there may be individuals in the group who might respond if talked to, but I wouldn't count on it. I am speaking from our own experiences on this. Luckily, we had many friends who have stuck with us through all this, and they are priceless. I agree that what is needed is a new support group of new friends who are really there for her, bad or good. She needs that very much right now. Don

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This makes me very sad and I'd want to call them up and say, 'Hey, how's Claire? ya know she really NEEDS us right now.' and if doesn't work, write 'em off. you tried. fair weather friends indeed. :( i'm so sorry.

((hugs)) and prayers


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When I first read this, I wondered, how old are these people? I know I was a much different person in my 30s than I am now. I read - out to a restaurant or pub most nights - and I am thinnking, these are friends of a sort but not your life long buddy type friends. A phonecall to some of them might be okay, pick your person because once you call one, all of them will be trying to prepare for your call or checking their calling ID to avoid you - most likely, these were friends of an age and that age is past for your friend - maybe if you pick the best one, she might get some support from one or two. Maybe a support group - some new friends - might be in order. Sad to read this. Margaret

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I have to say I agree with Peggy. These are good time friends and when the good time is over , so is the friendship. It's just like a drinker who has all his or her drinking buddies until he or she decides to give up drinking. Those people that have been "Friends" for years forget you're alive. It's sad but those are not True friendships. We all know that friends are few and far apart but aquantinces are many. What seemed to be friendships were based on shallow good times and when the boat sprung a leak they bailed. That is my opinion . I am very sad for you're friend , that God she has you!!

God Bless you both,


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Hi Dee,

Hard call, but it certainly would not hurt to call one. I would tell that person that you saw them and what's up. Thats all.

Whatever the answer at least you know you did something to try to help the situation.

As you are finding out, true friendship is measured when the chips are down and friends (and family) rally around to help pick her up and support through all this. Unfortuntely, that is when you find out who your true friends (and family memebers) are.

Bless you for being such a wonderful, caring friend to her.

Let us know what you decide.

Good luck, poor girl could use all the support she can get. Thank G-d she has you!


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