Friends who abandon you after losing a spouse – some solutions

After Tom’s dementia got noticeably worse and he was no longer fun to be around and in fact, had developed embarrassing behavior, his friends abandoned him. Tom’s wife, Betty almost never heard from their friends and if she did the conversations lasted less than a few minutes. Since Betty was always busy with Tom she could not go out with her friends so they stopped calling. When Betty did speak to her friends, they really did not want to hear about her predicament. When Tom died she was all alone with no support system from her friends. Have your friends ever abandoned you after your spouse became ill or died?

The loss of a spouse is hard enough, but the loss of your support systems at the same time are crippling. There are many reasons that people abandon their life-long friends or even relatives. Most of it has to do with them. They may have no idea what to say so they just stop calling. It may be a case of ‘but for the grace of god go I’. In other words, they will have to confront their own mortality or morbidity if they continue to engage and it is just easier to avoid it than deal with that. Sometimes people just hate unpleasantness and life’s messy turns and choose to deny it instead. So what can you do to not be so alone?

Five Solutions

  • Be grateful and thankful for those you do have. Don’t forget to say thanks frequently to those who have stood by you.


  • Try to talk about something else with friends who do not want to listen and think of their role as a temporary escape from your situation. Find other confidents to share your concerns with.


  • Seek out people in similar situations. There are support groups for caregivers of people who care for those with dementia, cancer, and more.


  • Look around for new support systems. There may be people around you that are willing to listen and help if you only look. For example, people in your house of worship, neighbors or old friends you have not seen in a while.


  • Seek professional help. If your situation seems very bleak, a licensed mental health professional may be a godsend.


All behavior is motivated by something. We cannot change other’s behavior but we can help ourselves and seek out people (sometimes new people) who support and care about us and will not abandon us or ignore us in our time of need.