QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgendered Department

Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SelfhelpMagazine.com staff.

Question

My best friend's partner has breast cancer, is very sick and may be dying. I understand that my friend's first priority is to spend as much time as possible with her partner, but she never calls, even to tell me what's happening with her partner. I love this woman--we've been friends for fifteen years, and I'm trying to be supportive and understanding. However, it's hard not to feel hurt and neglected. Any suggestions?

Answer

First, congratulations on owning up to your feelings. None of us stop being human in life and death situations, so it's important not to pretend, at least to yourself, that you've suddenly become a saint. It's normal to feel a sense of loss when someone you love becomes unavailable.

It's important to remember that the world becomes very small and narrow when a loved one is deathly ill. Your friend may not have the emotional energy to initiate contact, even to ask for support. You might find it useful to assume you'll have to do most of the initiating right now. It might also be helpful to ask your friend what you can do to be supportive. Finally, it's worth thinking about whether to ask your friend for what you need from her--sometimes it's a welcome respite to listen to/deal with someone else's problems.

03/13/98


Author and psychologist Gail S. Bernstein, Ph.D. has a psychotherapy practice in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Bernstein speaks and writes about gay, lesbian and bisexual people for both general and professional audiences, and is the author of the new audiotape, NOT HETEROSEXUAL: An Educational Program About Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People.

 

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