Monday, August 16, 2010

When families deal with health crises

If your family has ever dealt with a health crisis--whether it's an eating disorder or not--you've probably noticed that some friends step up while others back away. This New York Times piece looks at some of the very common and human reasons why we all back away sometimes, and offers advice for how to be a better friend when those you love are going through something big.

And if you'd care to join an online discussion on the subject, you can do that here.


patricia harman said...

Hi, Harriet...I was just looking for something else on the NYT Health Page and saw your piece about family crisis and feeling alone. I wish you could read my book The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir( Beacon Press)...a narrative about women in trouble and how they come into my exam room and tell me what's really going on in their lives. One of the women has a daughter with bullemia...She and her family are going from clinic to clinic. They've used up their savings, mortgaged their house...My job is to listen, to give hugs, sometimes to give information. You can see more about it at I wish you well. Great Article. Patricia Harman

jau said...

I'm very much looking forward to reading your book as I've always been curious about what makes people anorexic. We've all joked about wishing we were "a little anorexic" and I know I have, but I realize it's not funny at all, nor to be taken lightly, and isn't really about cutting out a few calories. Anyway, I applaud you for writing this. It must have been difficult, especially in light of everything else you were going through.

Which leads to my second point. Over a year ago, the husband of a very close friend of over 30 years became extremely sick. In the end it involved some neurosurgery and a lengthy recovery (I don't want to be too specific here in "public"). Unlike you, however, she adamantly rejected and refused all concern and care from friends. I suppose one could offer an argument that if she needed lots of distance, then that's what she needed and I should have been gracious enough to do that. But the removal lasted over six months and was then followed by an email saying that now I could help by taking weekly time off to assist in her husband's trips to therapy. Not a word about regret for the previous silence and closed doors. It's crushingly sad (for both people) but some people going through crises truly refuse help and concern. Things are never simple, I guess.