Friendship & Misinterpretation

I read a post over at Mumof4 ‘s blog this morning which essentially is about feeling let down by a friend.  And it got me thinking about different perceptions of situations and how people can interpret things very differently from each other, which can lead to misunderstandings and, sometimes, to the end of friendships.

Mumof4’s post struck a particular chord with me, as I am currently in a situation which could potentially be suffering from this problem.  I’ve written about my friend Jane before – her husband died recently from a brain tumour, and his funeral took place last week.

Jane and I worked together around 16 years ago, and became close friends for a period of two or three years – we lived in each other’s pockets and socialized together a lot.

But we were always ‘girly’ friends – we never did the couples thing very well together once we’d both got married, as our husbands didn’t really have anything in common (and her first husband was, quite frankly, a bit of an oddball!)

So gradually, over the years, we saw less of each other.  Unfortunately, William didn’t get on well with Jane’s daughter, who was two or three years younger than him, so once we’d had kids, we saw even less of each other.

Jane subsequently divorced the oddball, met a new partner, moved further away and then remarried last summer.  However, we have kept in touch over the years, and have met up for lunch or coffee two or three times a year to catch up on each other’s news.

In my previous post about Jane, I wrote about how her mother was diagnosed with cancer just after her husband’s terminal diagnosis last summer, and subsequently died last November.  Paul, Jane’s husband, died three weeks ago.

I’m slowly getting to the point of this post – bear with me – which is that I haven’t actually spoken to Jane since before Paul’s terminal diagnosis.  And Jane could have interpreted this as a horrific lack of support, failure of friendship, etc.

I sincerely hope she hasn’t, but I can see how this could be the case.

From my point of view, the situation is the following:

Jane and I have a friend in common, Anna, who we both see more often than we see each other.  I have relied on Anna for news of Jane over the last year or so, rather than bothering Jane direct.  I know Jane and Paul both have big families, and they also have a huge circle of friends and acquaintances, and I felt Jane would have enough to deal with, without me (a friend who she’s seen only a handful of times over the last few years) phoning for news – I thought it might be seen as pestering.

I have, however, text Jane on several occasions, telling her that I’m thinking about her and her family, and hoping she’s OK, etc etc.  I also sent a sympathy card/letter when Paul died.

I didn’t go to his funeral, as I’d only actually met him once to speak to, and I didn’t feel that it was appropriate.  Over 300 people attended, which is testament to what a popular and well-liked man he was.

So … what could be perceived by Jane as a lack of contact and support from me, has actually been for all the right reasons as far as I’m concerned – the course of action I’ve chosen to take has been taken with the very best of intentions.

However, I can see that it could be open to misinterpretation, and I really hope that this isn’t the case.

I am planning on phoning Jane later this week, to chat, offer my condolences now the funeral is over and the dust has settled a little, and see if she’d like to meet up for coffee.  And I’ll be honest, I’m dreading it a little bit.

I really hope we haven’t got our friendship wires crossed.








10 thoughts on “Friendship & Misinterpretation

  1. I think you are on the right lines….you weren’t actively seeing Jane so much recently…..your card showed concern as did your texts. I think she’ll have been so overwhelmed she might want a break anyhow….calling her soon, no matter how uncomfortable (you might just get VM) could be a good thing. Also because you didn’t know the husband so well, she might appreciate the distance and you being a friend just for her rather than the sadness of the recent situation.
    Hope that makes sense.
    Brilliant post btw!

  2. Such a difficult situation, when someone passes away, to know how to handle even at the best of times. It’s very hard to second guess how someone could be feeling when they are dealing with such an awful situation. I really hope the phone call goes well. Being there and offering friendship at any point will show your friend you care.
    Lisa x

  3. Hi sounds like you done all the right things & gave her space so to speak when husband was not well. Just make sure you make your phone call. A friend lost her husband once & now so much time has lapsed. It was not through ignorance on my part. I guess I did not how to approach her, I was worried that I would get in the way in her grief. I never intentionally meant to leave it so long. Hope that make sense. I am sure youre friend will love to hear from you& feel touched x

  4. I agree with the previous comments, you can still be a friend even though it may be a text message every now and then or a phone call, I dont think she had the time to even think about it to be honest and like you said she knew that your mutual friend would relay any ifnormation. It is sad but people do drift apart. x Dawn

  5. Excellent thought provoking post. We all put our own spin on situations and my family, stubborn Yorkshire folk, fall out with each other at the drop of a hat. You are doing the right thing contacting your friend now, it will be difficult and sad but you are giving her the love and support she needs even if she doesn’t realise it at first.

  6. It’s true – you never know how people are going to react. A friend of mine (for over 35 years!) lost her father and I didn’t know it. Since she had moved away from our town and didn’t have the obit in our newspaper, I hadn’t known about it till it was over. When I did find out, I called her and went into a big discussion about how sorry I was and that I didn’t know about it or else I would have come to the funeral, etc., etc. I must have apologized so many times to her and she acted like it wasn’t anything to get upset over. She didn’t know why I was so distraught actually. I said “why didn’t you tell me or have someone call me about it?” She said, oh I didn’t think it mattered. Oh well. I thought that was a very odd statement but everyone thinks differently. So, like I said, you never know how your friend is going to react. Your heart was in the right place and you even texted her several times and so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.

  7. Hiya I am terrible about phoning people. How about writing her a letter or a card inviting her to meet, then the ball is in her court? and she can reply in her own time ? x

  8. Boy can I relate to everything you said. I always fear that I’m intruding. I think texting was a good way to go…let her know you were thinking of her, and let her respond as she had the time and mental energy. I recently got a text from a friend letting me know that her son had passed away and that she wanted to let me know, but didn’t have the wherewithal to talk right then. I texted back my sympathy and followed up with a card in the mail (her son lived in another city, and I never heard about any funeral arrangements). Then I waited a couple of weeks to call her. And it seemed the right way to go about it. I think your friend will appreciate your gentle concern.

  9. When my Mum died last year I so appreciated the texts and cards I received and I expect your friend did too. She will know that you were thinking of her and a phone call is a good way to reconnect with her I think, you won’t how she’ll react until you do it. Good luck. Btw my mobile doesn’t have a camera so I can’t do instagram, thanks for your comment.

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