Two years ago one of my best friends lost her husband in a car accident. It was a terrible tragedy and a huge loss and because the couple didn't have children, it left my friend feeling all alone in the world.
When he died I was there for her, from the moment I heard the news through the funeral and well beyond. A group of us have stood by her for two years. We have held her and comforted her and cried oceans of tears. We have listened to her rant and rave and express her shock and anger. But now, it is enough.
She was a difficult, selfish and moody person before he died and her loss has made her even more of a nightmare. We accepted her for her faults and thought she would change as she got older, but his death has just made her worse. It has reached a point where no one wants to be with her. She moans all the time, and feels so sorry for herself that she cannot comprehend that life is difficult for everyone and that other people have also experienced loss. As far as she is concerned, no one is in a worse situation than she is.
Sure we all feel sorry for her, but does that mean we have to put up with her disgusting behaviour? I don't think so. What is your advice?
Fed up, Johannesburg
Sister, before you all pack your bags and run from your grieving but difficult friend, take time out as a group to sit her down and talk to her. Make a time that suits everyone and then pour your hearts out about how you feel, and tell her she is not allowed to say a word until each one of you has had your say.
It is important that you tell your friend that you love her, always have and always will, but it is equally important that you make sure she understands that her aggressive and victimised behaviour alienates those who care about her. Tell her that you understand how she feels about losing her husband and that she has your sympathy and empathy, but explain that her behaviour shows an utter lack of respect for the feelings and boundaries of others.
She must be made to understand that she has always been "a difficult person" who has become impossible since she was widowed. Make it clear that you all love her despite her problems and issues, but she is pushing your love to the limits. Tell her that your loving her is not an excuse for her to behave in whatever way she chooses. It is important that she loves you back, and that her behaviour should reflect that.
It sounds like your friend needed therapy long before she lost her husband, and she most definitely needs it now - if she wants to avoid the lonely existence that she dreads.
She should seek professional help as soon as possible and approach an organisation such as Compassionate Friends. She needs help NOW. Good luck.