So So Sad

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
My oldest friend is dying. Not oldest age but some I have known for almost 40
years, ever since college and all through law school. Were not in practice
together but we&'ve been at ever one if our respective families broad marriages
even divorce parties for our first exes. I like this guy more than either if my
brothers. He&'d been sick all winter and was finally corrected diagnosed with stage
4 throat cancer. If radical experimental chemo seamy work he&'ll be dead in two
months because he can only get nutrition through a straw and us eating away.
I&'m not as close to his sister but she needs support. She ‘s refusing to talk about
what’s happening to him, but calls to go to dinner, movies, and distraction. How
can I talk to someone who&'s in denial when I&'m more emotional than she us about his passing.
So So Sad

 
Dear So So Sad:
It would be great if the sister had a different support network, but
either she does not, or she is cozying up to you because she knows
how close you are to the dying brother and that’s a close as she can
get top expressing her feelings. Simply being nearer to you is a
comfort for her, and one you’re going to have to be willing to give, and
to get your own comfort elsewhere. You don’t need to do so to the
exclusion of either taking care of your friend or his family, or to taking
care of your own needs, but you should offer her the compassion she
needs.

 
One thing you might do, and I am no psychologist, is to talk about
your own feelings. Partly to let her know it’s okay to feel the pain and
incipient loss. But also to push her to a point where she’s willing to let
some of the heartache she must be feeling show. One side benefit is
that if it makes her too uncomfortable she might back away from you.
But given the short time horizon you are describing, no one is going to
be able to doge this for very long. Also you might take her to visit her
brother, to be the interlocutor in the room. Or just outside in the hall,
so that there’s no big gap of “I should have done more” in her after his
passing.