Death, family, grief


Following on from my last post, this is just a way of letting it out really and trying to make sense of what is happening right now.

I’ve been feeling very morose lately, largely in part to the fact that my close friend Briony is in hospital with stage four cancer and last Thursday (it’s now Monday) they said there was nothing more they could do, and that they expected her to die very soon.

In fact they thought she would die on Thursday, but the fact that it’s Monday is just so typical Briony! (Briony is a pseudonym but I think she’d like it.) She never likes to do things by halves!

Of course I am devastated that my friend is going to die. We always knew it might happen but were hopeful it wouldn’t be for years.

But a huge amount of pain has been compounded by the behaviour of her husband. He won’t allow any contact with friends. I’ve tried everything. I’ve been ultra supportive. I’ve driven him to hospital multiple times, bought them food and anything they need, and I know they’re grateful but… he just won’t allow contact. (Not just me… Anyone as far as I know.)

I knew Covid restrictions were in place for visitors and I accept that. (He also tried to prevent her sister from visiting. Bear in mind they both had the tragedy of their mum dying a month ago and so her poor sister is now facing her only sibling dying as well as her mum during such a short time, and during lockdown when we are all restricted.)

What I find really really difficult to accept is that I can’t speak with her on the phone or on a video call. I have asked multiple times and he always says no. She is completely dependent on him since she lost the use of her hands before going into hospital, so it could only happen if he helped use the phone, which he hasn’t been willing to do even before she went into hospital (for two weeks).

I could be doing him a disservice and maybe Briony has said she doesn’t want to hear from any friends. Which would make me so sad because she’s so loved, but maybe she doesn’t feel like she wants to speak to them at this time? I find that so difficult to believe though. She’s the most sociable, loving friend and I can’t understand not wanting to be in contact with anyone else for a month, especially if she understands she is going to die. But I don’t know. Maybe she just doesn’t.

He said that it would be too much for her but I think it would be too much for him. He was completely unreasonable about her sister wanting to see her. He actually tried to prevent her coming but she came anyway, and the hospital let her in because she’s family. But I’m not family. Even though we call each other “sis”.

I completely understand that maybe he wouldn’t want her inundated with calls. But I know if she could use her hands she’d be messaging people including me – she always did. She was super active on social media, spoke openly about her cancer and stayed in touch with her wide group of friends on a constant basis.

For context: We usually speak at a minimum daily via WhatsApp, she lives 5 mins away from us on the same development, we usually see each other in real life at least twice a week, and she’s really my closest local friend.

It’s not like I’m someone who sees her once in a blue moon. We’ve gone from daily contact to no contact and I’m expected just to accept that and then she will be dead and I’ll never see her or speak to her or hug her again.

So that’s where we are at. She’s going on longer than expected. We are all just waiting for the news that she has died, which is a horrible thing to wait for. Her husband is a man of few words so I get a daily update (that goes to a lot of people) but it’s frustratingly brief.

And I also get that it’s not about me, before anyone says that. This is just my grief and way of processing it. I’m sure he has other things to focus on than updating her friends. I guess it’s just made me (and friends I’ve discussed it with) evaluate what we would do in the same situation.

I talked about my wishes with T, and I know friends have talked with their partners as a result of this. T said he’d never prevent my friends from being in touch or visiting. (Covid notwithstanding.) I know he’d hold up the phone for a video call, because he knows I’d want to see loved ones. And I’d do the same for him. (Also – I want life preservation as much as possible for whatever chance I might have to see my child grow up. Even if I have locked in syndrome. I would never willingly leave my child.)

During this time I’ve just tried to cope with it and be at peace. I’m usually a pretty philosophical/phlegmatic person when it comes to death. I think funerals are more for the living than the dead. And when you’re gone you’re gone, and the sorrow is for those left behind, and you have to try and be happy for the times you had, not the future you lost with them. I get all that.

But for now I’m still sad.

I have been baking for hospital staff twice a week. It keeps my mind off everything. Actually it doesn’t… but it’s sort of a meditation. Every cake I’ve made for the past few weeks has been for Briony, in my head. This one I was thinking of her being a bit of a hippy and how she might be gaining her wings. I don’t believe in the afterlife but I hope she finds peace and is free of pain, whatever happens.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Amy M. says:

    I’m so sorry that you haven’t been allowed to say anything to her. Obviously her husband has a lot he’s dealing with right now, but if she’s that much of a social person, it doesn’t seem like he’s handling things the way she would want. I mean obviously I don’t know, but it just sounds that way. And for him to try to keep her own sister away, that just seems flat out wrong to me.
    I’m sorry things happened so quickly. I do hope that she’s comfortable, and that she can find peace. Sending lots of love your way. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nara says:

      Thanks so much Amy. 💕 I just have to hope he is respecting her wishes. It makes me feel so sad to think the last time I saw her was the last time. And to know she’s still going but I can’t speak to her is heartbreaking. But I have to think it’s not about me, it’s about her. So I’m sure she has comfort from her sister and husband being there. I’m just hoping that it is pain free for her. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. TAO says:

    Write her a letter, even if you can’t send it, write more every day if you can just like you are talking to her.

    Mom was very social, she also didn’t want anyone to visit at the end, the last month or so, she didn’t want people to remember her that way. Cancer is cruel. I’m so sorry.


    1. Nara says:

      I haven’t written her a letter but have sent her messages on WhatsApp every day. Even though I know she won’t read them.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Nara says:

      I have done a lot of thinking the last few days and I have also spoken with her sister and I think this really helped. I think I have been able to come to terms with not seeing her, because of what you said and also understanding more about her condition from her sister. Her husband always tries to sugar coat it so it sounds like she’s her normal self, which is why I found it hard to accept that I couldn’t speak to her or see her. Her sister told me that’s not the case and she can only say a few words at a time and isn’t lucid a lot of the time. She wouldn’t be able to sit up or watch a video or anything like that. And thinking about what you said, I know she wouldn’t want people to see her that way. She was always really proud. So thank you for commenting and making me think – it has enabled me to reframe it and come to terms with it a bit in my mind. I know seeing her would more be for me than for her. And I think they are honouring her wishes and she would not want me to be unhappy about not seeing her. Thank you. ♥️


      1. TAO says:

        Thankful what I said helped. Wishing you peace with the journey of so much loss.

        Liked by 1 person

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