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How can I get my friend to accept help? She may be dying.

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Hi Mark,

I think my question is rather complicated – so much so, in fact, that I don't even know how to start...

Ok, here goes. I consulted a dentist about four years ago, after which I needed a lot of treatment and so I ended up going almost weekly for months, during which time I got to know this person very well (or so I came to understand afterwards when I casually mentioned something that person had said to me to a member of staff, who said that she is so private that she never tells anyone anything).

As I thought we got on well, I asked her if she fancied coming out for a coffee sometime or was it a problem professionally. She said that no, it wasn't, but she was really too busy, which I took to be a polite brush-off and thought no more about it. I have, however, since found out from other people that I appear to be the closest thing she has to a friend, as she seems to have some difficulty in relating to people. And I have continued to listen to her confidences and to be as much of a friend as I can under these somewhat limiting circumstances.

She has recently become terribly ill and lost half her body weight – 4 stone. I understand from staff that she has not told any of her family and has kept away from them, as she does not want them to see her. I offered to make her soup and she has accepted, but continues to deteriorate. I am afraid that if I try to get any closer, she will sever contact altogether.

What approach should I take as I really feel that she may die?

This question was submitted by 'Wendy'

mark tyrrell

Mark says...

Hi Wendy and thank you for writing in.

I'm sorry your friend has been so ill. This is a difficult one because of course no one can make her accept help or even company. So I think going gently is the way to go.

You can offer help, tell her you are there for her, and even push it a little, perhaps, and suggest that you'll come and give her company and help her until she tells you not to. Tell her that you want to help her all you can, that you don't want to overdo it, but that you really want her to tell you if it's too much so that you can ease off a bit if she wants you to.

In this way, you give the 'power' to her and suggest that you can expand or contract your help and contact without having to cut it off completely.

I hope that is of some help.

All best wishes,


watch icon Published by Mark Tyrrell - April 4th, 2015 in

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