The Executive Director of The Compassionate Friends, Alan Pedersen, joins the Grief Relief show with Dr. Gloria Horsley. Dr. Darcie Sims joins the show to talk about how you lose and gain friends when you lose a loved one. Pedersen travels the world, sharing stories about his healing process from losing his daughter. He’s also a performer, and is featured in this episode singing “A Little Further Down the Road.” Dr. Sims also travels to share stories about her loss, as part of the Angels of the USA Program.
Your relationships with friends change over time anyway, and they can shift suddenly and dramatically with big events. Losing a child can cause the disappearance of many friends. Dr. Sims lost her son, “Big A,” years ago. She remembers that many friends came to the funeral, but she never saw them again. It’s interesting to note that years ago casserole dishes were given at wakes with names on them so you’d know who to return them to. The dishes today are disposable, an unfortunate suggestion of what may happen with some friendships.
Denise Pedersen, Alan’s wife, also joins the show. Their son, Sean, was 21 when he got into a car accident. However, nobody knew what happened for nine days. Friends rallied around them during the search. Once his body was recovered, their friends stuck around for a while (to plan the funeral) but they slowly disappeared. Denise says she thinks her pain was just too strong and nobody knew how to handle it.
“So many people think death and grief are contagious,” says Dr. Sims. In a way, grief is, and it’s normal to not know how to act when a friend is in grief. It’s in grief support groups that you might find new friendships.