Be patient with friend who is enduring a sad time
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
D ear Carolyn:
A dear friend just found out her brother is dying from cancer. The friend and brother are young, so this is quite a horrible surprise. The friend lives in my city. The brother is long-distance. I don't know the brother. Any ideas on how I can be of the most use to my friend as she tries to support her brother and cope with his diagnosis?
— Helping a Friend
Maybe the best thing you can do is expect and accept that she will be erratic during this time — her feelings and moods will be jagged, her ability to be your friend will be all over the place, etc. If you can be a patient, soft place for her, then you will be of enormous value.
Another great thing to do is just call. If you normally talk every day, then just keep up your normal pace; you'd be surprised at how many people grow awkward and drift away. If you normally talk once a week, call twice a week. Kick monthly up to weekly, etc. There is a bottomless supply of comfort in the knowledge that someone gives a hoot.
On a more practical note, you can do things like watch her home when she travels to see him; keep an eye on ticket prices to help her find times to go; pick up a few chores of hers, etc. As grieving people report so often, it's more helpful when people offer tangible things to which they can respond “yes” or “no,” versus coming up with an answer to an open-ended “If there's anything I can do ... .”
What's your definition of a “soul mate”? A friend of a friend and I have started hanging out, and he “gets me.” I have no desire to jump into a relationship with him right now, although he'd love nothing more, but we agree we're each other's soul mates. I don't think soul mates are necessarily romantic interests ... in fact, I would say that romance with one might prove catastrophic. He disagrees. What do you think?
I have no idea what a soul mate is to you, which is the only definition that matters.
I do have a good idea of what a red flag looks like, though, and your short question throws two: He's pushing for a faster commitment than you feel comfortable giving, and he's dismissing at least one of your arguments against an immediate declaration of happiness ever after.
It could be he's just smitten and goofy, but please be careful, and make sure he treats your need to pace yourself with respect.
Emotionally healthy people are the ones who can show respect for both parties in a transaction at all times, whether you're two strangers merging your cars onto a highway or a couple contemplating a life together. You both look out for both of you, or this won't end well.
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