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Self Absorbed People Can't Or Won't Offer Support

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As I explained in my first post, my mother died over two years ago. Mom was my best friend.

I'm over the age of 35 but under 45. I've had nobody to turn to since she died.

Since the death, I've been ignored by most people, which hurts deeply. I discussed that in another post, so I won't get into it here.

Several other things have really bothered me since my Mother died, one of which is: other people are totally self absorbed. :angry2:

They're so focused on themselves, they're not willing to put their own problems or concerns aside for one moment to offer me emotional support or encouragement.

Most of them do not even inquire as to how I'm doing but do not hesitate to talk my ear off (or write long e-mails) about their problems.

I guess I didn't really fully notice how self-absorbed people are until after my mother died.

Even in the few months after my mother died, I had long-time internet friends (who knew my Mom has just died), continue to write to me for support or to use me as a sounding board.

Sometimes, their problems were trivial by comparison to mine.

(No, their complaints to me were not a twisted or strange form of support. They were not trying to take my mind off my mother's passing by going on about their day to day, minor problems.)

Here I was, suffering from clinical depression and trying to deal with the loss of my mother (and all by myself!)...

And these internet friends (and a few family members too), during that time period (and after), would write to me as usual, sobbing or ranting about stuff like (I'm not joking)...

Their cell phone was broken.

And two weeks later, this same woman (who complained about her broken phone) was blowing up because her lap top computer was not acting right.

About two months after that, the same woman was angry because yet another of her electronic gadgets was broken (she was even threatening to commit suicide over some of these broken gadgets, and she did this more than once).

I'm sorry that friend was so upset, but I cannot fathom how someone can write to me that their biggest upset in life is their cell phone is broken (and stuff like that), when they know I just buried my Mom about three months before. :excl:

The other friend, "Terry," would complain to me, even shortly after my mother died, about stuff like how her car got a flat tire; the faucet in her home broke; and she would complain that the resulting repair bill was too high, etc.

During all that, I would write these friends back and console them.

I talked only about their problems when I replied.

I did not talk about me, or my pain, or my mother's death, even though I was very broken hearted.

A few months later, when I wrote to one of those same ladies, Terry, for support, I got hardly none from her! :o

(Remember, Terry had vented to me repeatedly in the past, or ranted about things, and I had always given her sympathy.)

But on this one occasion and one a few months later, I was hurting badly, and I reached out to Terry for support.

I e-mailed "Terry" to tell her how badly I was hurting and missing my mother.

When she wrote me back, Terry's introductory sentence was about how she was sorry I was sad over my mother.

The remainder of her e-mail, though (which was about four paragraphs long), was all about her complaining about trivial problems in her life (like her pet dogs had fleas, she didn't like the hair cut her new hair dresser gave her, etc).

I thought maybe that was a one time thing with her, so a few months later, when I was feeling very down again, I wrote her again for support.

She did the same thing again: spent her entire reply going on and on about her problems.

I've noticed several other people in my life are the same way. They are totally self absorbed.

Although I've been there for these people in years past, and have been a shoulder for them to cry on, they do not do that for me.

Also, whenever friends or family have called or e-mailed to vent or cry on my shoulder, I have offered only sympathy.

I do not blame them for their own problems, nor do I judge them, or criticize them, or give them advice and tell them how I think they "should" live their lives.

But some of these same people, when I tell them I'm hurting, angry or upset over Mom being gone (or whatever else), sit there and judge me, give me advice, blame me for my own problems, etc.

I am so tired of the hypocrisy and self-absorption.

It especially gets on my nerves how after all the years I've been a good shoulder for all these people to cry on or vent to when they're angry or hurting about something, they don't do that for me!

I'm infuriated about it.

It also makes me feel like I was being used the whole time.

Even within three months of my mother's funeral, some of these people were still e-mailing me or phoning me to rant about petty things like problems with their bosses, traffic jams, their boyfriends, or whatever.

I was there for them at those times, even though I thought their concerns were trivial and their behavior was tacky and selfish.

When these people approached me talking about their pain, frustrations, or problems, I did not talk about myself or what I was going through, not even right after my Mom's death.

They never stopped to ask me how I was coping with my mother's death, though.

All the phone calls and e-mails (or 99% of them) were all about them and their lives and their problems almost all the time.

I can't get over how even though I've been capable of practicing self discipline and refusing to talk about my problems when a friend calls to cry about their problems, most of them are utterly unwilling or incapable of doing this in return.

Even when I call (or write) about my problems (which I try not to do often, since I do not want to be a burden), they turn the entire conversation into what is going on in their lives and the problems they're having. I do not do that to them, though.

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Although it was my husband who died, I understand exactly what you are saying.People really do not get the pain you are suffering.they are too wrapped up in their own lives to give you the support you needed. I suggested to my daughter to find a group where she could talk about her dad's death. she went to a hospice group since he had died of cancer. it was hard since most of the people there were much older than she was, but she did find some solace in their warmth and understanding.

Best wishes,


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Most everyone going through grief has run up against this problem: grossly insensitive and uncaring humanity. You convey this thought so convincingly, it's almost satirical, as a novelist might describe it. I can picture the very people you write about, and it makes me cringe inside. In this respect, I am both mildly horrified and humored by the people you describe in your post.

My own mother passed away just under two years ago, and the curious thing is that for all the grief it brought on, I've been propelled forward into a new life and have changed substantially. I too see people in a different light. I look for kindness in others, and like you am appalled when I run across so many self-absorbed yahoos. My own explanation for this broad fault of humanity is that the world is packed with morons, and it's my job to steer past them to find the occasional remaining few caring souls. I know this is not a fair description, but sometimes that's how I feel. And the worst part of it is when I see my own inconsiderate behaviors clearly; then I turn to jello and want to fall through the cracks in the floor.

I think we are all faulted, and that it's caring and considerate behaviors that redeem us. I suppose the right thing to do is to practice extraordinary patience. I try daily to grow more tolerant and humored by it all, but sometimes it drains me to complete frustration. In broader perspective, I think it's my mother's passing that has broadened my sensitivity. Weird that life tragedies can propel our own humanity into a positive trajectory.

Thanks for your post. It gives me renewed confidence that I can face the petty, thoughtless, and and self-abosorbed glut of humanity that surrounds me every day.

Ron B.

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I think you'll find many people here know EXACTLY what you're talking about!

Since my mom passed, I have lost almost all of my patience, especially for other people's trivial problems. I especially have a hard time dealing with my friends when they complain about their own mothers. Really? At least you still have your mother here! I would give anything to have my mother annoy me!

I think the problem is that people don't know how to deal with grief or a grieving person, so they try to ignore the problem and hope we'll all just get better on our own. My friends get visibly uncomfortable if I bring up stuff about my mom or my grief so I've stopped. Instead, I vent here to people who I know will understand and not judge me or ignore me.


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Thank you everyone for the replies.

I did read all of them. :)

I also got a private message from someone, and I'd like to answer that private message next time I'm on this board, which might be this weekend or the following, I don't know.

Ron B. - I was already a very sensitive person before my Mom died, so I wasn't exactly blind to other people's pain, but her death has made me even more aware of other people's suffering.

I notice it even more now than before.

The odd thing is that the whole thing has made me less compassionate, in a way.

When it comes to other people's suffering, I have lots of understanding and pick up on it much more, but my compassion is about out, and I guess that's because people I was counting on have ignored me in my time of need.

It's hard for me to feel compassion for my family and friends when they're hurting when I don't believe they gave me compassion when I really could have used it.

Anyway. The constant complaining by friends about trivial problems might not bother me so much except for...

1. the timing of it

(some of these friends were doing it even shortly after the death, which I thought was in extremely poor taste)


2. the "sounding board" or "non judgmental, shoulder to cry on" role was not reciprocated.

In other words, if you want me to listen to you complain about how your pet cat Fluffy puked all over your new bed spread last Thursday and you think that's the end of your world, that's fine, to a point...

But when I need to phone you tomorrow to cry about how much I miss my Mom, you had better take the call and be compassionate about it.

Don't ignore my call, try to weasel out of letting me discuss the issue with you, or switch the topic from me and my mom to your new Bar-B-Q grill. Or more ranting about Fluffy puking on your bedspread.

BellaRosa said,

I think you'll find many people here know EXACTLY what you're talking about!
Yep, and that is why I signed up. I lurked here for a few months before registering.

I can't find this level of understanding and compassion at other boards or blogs. I've tried.

I saw several very old posts here that sound like I could've written them myself, the experiences were so similar to my own.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Some of you may have already seen this article advising people on how best to help a friend who is in mourning.

In the article, the authors interviewed people who have recently lost someone to death and asked for their experiences and input.

Above in this thread, one thing I mentioned that drives me nuts and that I deeply resent, are people who won't let me talk to them or cry on their shoulder about how much I miss my mother (who died over two years ago), and yet...

They still e-mail or phone me to cry or complain about the most trivial, mundane things, (like they chipped their nail polish, or their dentist told them they have a cavity).

(To be honest, though, I'm even annoyed about more serious issues my friends come to me wanting to be consoled over, like one who quit her job and was fretting she could not get employment again.

Sorry, but that still pales in comparison to me coping with the loss of my mother.

This was also a friend who had not really been there for me as much as she could have.)

So when I got to this quote in the article, I totally related:

Many people focused on the painful fact that loved ones often ignored their pain or were uncomfortable with it.

Discomfort sometimes led to awkward encounters:

As one respondent noted, "At my husband's wake my sister actually said to me 'Why do bad things keep happening to me?' after her car broke down."

Can you imagine you're at your loved one's wake or funeral and your idiot family member or friend has the audacity to complain about how bad things (her car breaking down?!) keep happening to her?

The funeral (or wake) is about your family member who is hurting and her loss, and the one who died - it's not about you or your problems.

I've had things like that happen to me since my Mom died (even in the few months following her death).

How can people be so oblivious, careless, self absorbed, and clueless?

When someone's loved one just died, they really don't care about your petty concerns.

Put your own lousy problems aside for just two hours a month for a few months to let your grieving friend cry, rant, or talk about what they're going through.

It's very insulting to bring your trivial annoyances up, especially if you are not acting as a sounding board for the grieving person in return for all the listening they have provided for you and continue to provide you.

You expect them to take your monotonous, three hour long angry or depressing phone calls where you rant and cry about mundane issues or how frustrated you are by life, your job, or your boyfriend, or the price of bananas these days....

But you quickly find an excuse to hang up when they try to talk about how much they miss their deceased family member.

People really disgust me at times.

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I think people just don't understand grief unless they've experienced it. "They don't realize that it's something that never goes away. They may be sympathetic for a few days, but then they just expect you to get over it. I heard something on a radio program that has stayed with me ever since. It was a tribute for the 45th anniversary of the passing of Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copus, and Randy Hughes. Sorry for the music geekiness. Jean Shepherd, a country singer from back in the day who was married to Hawkshaw at the time of his passing, talked about how the music community was very supportive and was like a family. She brought up a point that people didn't go to counselors and therapists back in those days because they usually had a support group, but nowadays people are so involved in their own lives that they don't care about each other anymore, so a person has to seek professional help. I saw this so much when my husband lost his dad. He didn't have anybody but me. Even our church bailed on us.

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Thanks for the post, keyboardplayer.

You said,

She brought up a point that people didn't go to counselors and therapists back in those days because they usually had a support group, but nowadays people are so involved in their own lives that they don't care about each other anymore, so a person has to seek professional help.
I was at another forum where some of the people were talking about how technology has changed things, not just in regards to that, but just in day-to-day relationships, and I wonder if that's part of the problem too.

People used to visit each other face-to-face or phone each other, but now, a lot of people have substituted more impersonal communication, such as e-mails, texting, and social networking sites.

I'm not against those things (I use some of them myself at times).

I think they have their place, but I think a lot of people find it easier to ignore you during your time of grief, or only give you token attention, if they fire off a quick e-mail or click the "like" link on some post you make on Facebook.

I think when you are seriously hurting, you need way, way more comfort and interaction than a quick e-mail or whatever can provide.

But many people are rats and take the easy way out.

Instead of phoning you up, or visiting, and letting you pour your heart out for a couple of hours about your loss...

They weasel out of their friendship duties by shooting off a quick e-mail, or hitting the "like" link when you post on your Facebook wall, if you post about missing your deceased loved one or something.

I guess they assume such shallow action on their part fulfills their obligation at being a good friend, showing sympathy, and really helping you through the loss - and they'd be wrong about that.

You said,

He didn't have anybody but me. Even our church bailed on us.
I'm very sorry your church group was not there for you. I think that is inexcusable.

The Scriptures tell us we are to weep with those who are weeping.

I am trying to get over the hurt and disappointment at how other Christians have failed me in this area (I happen to be a Christian myself).

I've had some Christians (people who attend church weekly) who ignore me, and others (even those who knew how vulnerable I was) pass judgment on me and yell at me

(and I did nothing to deserve getting yelled at, it's a rather long story I will skip for now).

I need their love, time, encouragement, and support - instead I got criticism and condemnation, or just totally ignored.

You said,

They may be sympathetic for a few days, but then they just expect you to get over it.
So far, I've been fortunate not to have anyone actually tell me to my face (or the phone) that I need to hurry up and "get over" my mother's death.

I have read a lot of other people at this site and other sites mention they've been subjected to that view or comment, though.

I did get an e-mail from an online grief program I signed up for last year (an e-mail which they send out every day to anyone who signs up for it) telling me that I need to get over the death after a year or two.

That e-mail made me very angry.

(That e-mail also totally contradicted their previous e-mails where they told grieving people things such as, "take as long as you need to grieve, and do not allow anyone to hurry you through the grieving process.")

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We have a good church now with people who love us, but the other one was so big that you had to be in their clique before they would notice you.

As for what you said about people just shooting you an e-mail or something, I know that I really have a problem going on the facebook pages that were started for my sister and Papaw. I'm the type that tries to bury the grief in the closet until it busts open the door. Obviously today I've been letting it out, though. Probably your family members may be the same way as me and have trouble talking about the sad stuff because they don't want to deal with their loss of your mom. I don't know if this is the case, but it could be. If not, they're being jerks.

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  • 2 weeks later...
... If not, they're being jerks.

Thanks for the reply, KBP.

They're just being jerks. :lol:

Please, no need to give them the benefit of the doubt or make excuses for them.

I haven't yet made a post about it but planned to.

One of my siblings, whom I did not provoke, spent the first two years after Mom died emotionally and verbally abusing me.

Other family, even after I told then I could really use their emotional support, would they please phone me once every three months, never did call or write (in over two years).

These are people age 50 or older who are retired, in great health, not going through any tragedies themselves, they have plenty of free time.

They have no good reason for blowing me off.

They are just lazy, too ignorant, insensitive or self absorbed to realize, or care, or even notice, I could really use their support, even after I brought it to their attention.

But they still want me to look at 600 million photos of their grand kids on Facebook or in person on occasions when they do see me, or they want me to listen to all the adorable things their grand kids did last week. :angry2::rolleyes:

I don't think so. If you're not going to ask me how I'm doing once in a while and coldly blow me off in my time of need, I don't very much care to know what your grand kids are doing. :angry2:

You said,

We have a good church now with people who love us, but the other one was so big that you had to be in their clique before they would notice you.
I'm glad the people at your new church are more responsive to your needs.
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This is my first time on any interactive internet site and I never, ever believed I could find a more likeminded experience on line than in my daily life, thank you all so very much.

I cannot believe what a difference it makes to know I'm not alone in feeling abandonded by my friends. My mother died suddenly 2 years ago, and since then until 3 months ago my father lived with my husband and me whilst he was dealing with cancer - he died 3 months ago. During that time my husband underwent intensive chemotherapy for cancer, and thankfully is fully recovered now. We live abroad which means I'm not able to meet up with my oldest and closest friends often, but we have always been in close contact over the years. They are good people, but I have been SO hurt at the lack initiation with phone calls or even emails. The condolence letters came, but after that not much (except from a couple who do understand). After losing parents and the uncertainty, at one point, about my husband, I feel so isolated and vulnerable and really really need the support of friends who have known me all my life, my history, my parents! And when they weren't there I thought it must be because I'd done something wrong! I couldn't understand it. Particularly some who have also had experience with loss (why is that?). So it has helped to hear other people's explanations for this behaviour - it makes them uncomfortable and or they are busy with their own lives. I completely understand that, and have in the past been guilty of the same. But I have another theory too. If, like me , you appear to be ok and getting on with life, they will not know how you're really feeling, so assume you are ok. If I were face to face with a friend and they asked how I was I'd be able to tell them, but on the phone or by email I can't. I was so angry and hurt, and still am sometimes, and want to say it, but it doesn't help, in fact makes it worse. I'm not entirely sure about how to go about dealing with it. Perhaps the best approach for me is to try to accept they can't be there, take small opportunties to talk if they arise, but try to find strength in becoming more independent and through those who really understand , such as everyone here. And TO HELP OTHERS!! That is SO important, to learn from this experience and try to be more sensitive to others needs - although one of you mentioned you find it difficult to be there for friends who are going through hard times who haven't been there for you. I think I could feel like that too, but it's a depressing emotion, which I have enough of at the moment anyway, so I'll work on that!

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Thanks for your response, Daphne, and no, you're not alone.

If you look at the older threads on this forum, you'll find conversations by other people who have been in the same situation too, who are not getting any support (or not nearly enough) after their losses.

You said,

[some have ignored me or have been insensitive] Particularly some who have also had experience with loss (why is that?).
I know exactly what you mean. I've had that happen to me.

Usually, people who have been through a death know what to say and how to behave, but strangely enough, I've met a few who are just as rude and insensitive as those who have not been through a loss.

I've been intending on writing a new post with stories of some of the rude comments and such I've received from people after my mother died.

One of those stories involves this older woman in her mid 60s who I met at one church I went to for a few months.

The mid 60s woman I met at a church - her mother died about three or four years before my Mom did.

I thought because this woman also experienced the loss of her mother, she would, of all people, know how to treat me, but I was so wrong.

She went on to say judgmental things and really hurt me, issue me cliches, etc.

I was shocked that someone more than 20 years older than me, who also lost her Mom, would act so insensitive to me and after I had opened up to her and told her all my deeply personal problems, including how my Mom's death had affected me.

So there are definitely "odd balls" out there who have been through a death just like we have-

But all the same, they extend no sympathy or compassion to others who are in grief, or they make the same exact stupid blunders (offer us platitudes, etc) that those who haven't gone through a loss tend to make.

You said,

So it has helped to hear other people's explanations for this behaviour - it makes them uncomfortable and or they are busy with their own lives.
I've given up trying to understand why people do what they do and what motivates them. It's a mystery.

Instead of wasting my time trying to figure out why others do what they do, I just try to pick up the pieces and move on with life.

I do think some motives of some people are clear - some people are simply lazy, selfish, or self absorbed.

They'd rather focus on their problems and their lives then listen to you talk about yours.

I think we waste too much energy trying to understand why people act the way they do. People are complicated and can have any number of reasons why they do what they do.

I find it better to stop pondering on why people act as they do and focus on getting better.

I do like venting and ranting about it, though, that is one thing that has helped me come to terms with people's self absorbed actions. :)

You said,

If, like me , you appear to be ok and getting on with life, they will not know how you're really feeling, so assume you are ok.
I suppose that can be true at times.

In my specific case, however, I have bluntly told some people around me I am not doing well, I am missing my mother, and I could use a phone call from them every so often....

But they still avoid or ignore me, they will not phone me (unless they phone me up to complain at me about their jobs, their lives, etc.)

You said,

And TO HELP OTHERS!! That is SO important, to learn from this experience and try to be more sensitive to others needs - although one of you mentioned you find it difficult to be there for friends who are going through hard times who haven't been there for you.
That was me who said that.

Not getting the support and compassion I needed after Mom died, even after I begged extended family for it, has made me tougher and less willing to extend compassion to other people, at least people in my life who I know directly.

(I am more willing to extend compassion to people here on this board who write about the pain they're going through.)

But for many other people, my view became,

"I had to tough out my loss all on my own, I had nobody to help me through it, even though I asked them for help, so you'll have to suck up your loss and deal with it by yourself too, don't come looking to me for compassion."

Maybe that is not a good or nice thing for me to feel or think, but it is an honest reaction/ emotion I've been having the past few years since my Mom died.

(I'm not going to pretend that I'm happy to sit around and confer compassion on other hurting people I know personally, when I've had little shown to me when I really, really needed it.)

I am sorry for you losses, both parents, and the stress you endured with your husband being sick. That is a lot to take on and live through.

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I read your some of your posts and I am not sure how much this will help you. I am only 23 after all, but I do know how you feel. My dad died a few weeks ago at age 49 and I feel like no one understands. I am glad I found these forums though because I found someone who I think knows how I feel and that helps. She told me that no one will ever know your exact grief. I agree with that. I think it is hard to comprehend for many people, and then there are some that just don't care enough to try to see how you are hurting. I am sorry you are having to deal with this and I hope things get easier for you. I suggest to keep coming here and posting. Maybe that can give you some comfort like it has given me. Take care.

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Spika, thanks so much for your kind words.

I am so sorry to hear of your loss as well. 49 is very young, too.

I'm sorry I can't type more at the moment, but I need to get to bed soon. I've stayed up far too late as it is.

I wanted to share this link with people here - this fits into my thread's theme about people not being willing to offer support, or just refusing (I have not even gotten around yet to making a thread about people who flat out acted like total jerks):

Grieving mother is told to stop talking about her dead child at work because it's distracting (from a British paper)

As long as the woman was getting her job done, IMO, they were wrong to reprimand her over it.

Maybe the company could have offered to pay to get her therapy or something, but it seems to me just telling her to shut up about the death was a bit harsh.

I will not paste in the entire article, just a few parts:

(Story highlights):

-Cecelia Ingraham's daughter died from leukemia

-Colleagues complained that she made them uncomfortable by her tendency to discuss the tragedy

She was told her colleagues were 'uncomfortable' with her tendency to discuss the tragedy and that she was causing a 'disruption'.

Ms Ingraham was devastated and kept pictures of her daughter and her ballet slippers displayed in her cubicle at work.

[someone from her company's Human Resources Department spoke with her to tell her that her talking about her grief made her co workers uncomfortable]

They [the woman's co workers] had reported being at a loss for 'what else that we can say that we have not said already' and said they had resorted to avoiding her.

Ms Ingraham was allegedly told to remove her daughter's pictures because they were a 'disruption' and to stop talking about Tatiana 'because she is dead'.

[The boss told her to come into work each day and pretend like her daughter was not dead]

Please use this link to read the rest:

Grieving mother is told to stop talking about her dead child at work because it's distracting (from a British paper)

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  • 7 months later...


I sure feel what you have been through. I am going through that now. People who I thought where my friends when I needed them especially with the loss of my Wonderful Sister in law and a sounding board in my life. When I want to share how I feel I can because they just all walk away but when they loose someone they expect us to be there for them. This is one reason why I dont have many friends. Every battle that my husband and I have had to go through it alone. My husband has lost 1 brother and 2 sisters in 7 yrs and his brother died on his mothers birthday. All this is really hard because because i know of other people that have gotten alot more support after losing someone then we have. We just fight alone and it is wrong.

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