When my friend really needed his friends, they avoided him. He was an active person in our community and was faced with a devastating crisis due to the fact that his son suffered from a mental illness. Something his son had done was published in the media and when he needed his friends the most, they avoided him. No one said; “I’m so sorry. This must be hard for you.” Not a single friend dared say: “I heard the news today. I want you to know that I think that the newspapeer report was terribly unfair and I don’t know how I would have felt if this had happened to my son.”
This man, a wounded, distressed, long suffering father, whose wife had run off with another man a long time ago, needed the comfort of his friends. IF somebody had acknowledged his hurt, it might have eased his pain somewhat. If a friend had invited him for coffee or dinner and given him the chance to talk about his problem, it could have been helpful, but, their avoidance of the topic was terriblely hard to take.
There is a lack of knowledge in response to crises of serious illnesses. Could it be due to fear? This man’s problems with his child did not occur as a consequence of bad parenting. When parents realize that their child is not simply going through a rocky stage, they need support. Any problem with a child results in the parents feeling like emotional wrecks. They probably feel depressed, angry and maybe even guilty. They are on an emotional roller coaster with little chance of stopping it and getting off.
Understanding and empathy are the operative words here.