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cooperlola

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This is not a sob story but it upset me so I need to let off a bit of steam somewhere.

An old friend has been ill with cancer for some time.  I have known him for over 30 years; I have spent countless holidays staying in his home, both before and since his wife died.  In the last few years, I have been the only person who stayed with him at his home. Sadly, because I'm stuck in hospital, I wasn't able to visit him while he was ill and had been hoping he would hang on until I was out of here so I'd get the chance to go and see him before he popped his clogs.

Yesterday, on finally getting round to opening my e-mails after a couple of days when for one reason or another I didn't have the time - there was an e-mail from his son, saying he had died.  Now, I'm sorry, I know this is the electronic age and all that, and I know I live in France so it costs a bit to phone, but an e-mail?  It really got to me that he couldn't be bothered to phone me or write properly.  I know the son quite well so it's not that he has no idea who I am or how much I valued his dad as a friend.  Am I being unreasonable - is e-mail acceptable for such things these days?

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[quote user="cooperlola"]

It really got to me that he couldn't be bothered to phone me or write properly.  I know the son quite well so it's not that he has no idea who I am or how much I valued his dad as a friend.  Am I being unreasonable - is e-mail acceptable for such things these days?

[/quote]

Speaking from experience, I'm sure it wasn't the case that his son couldn't be bothered, but possibly found it difficult to maintain a telephone conversation, a letter is too slow, text or email is the quick direct modern way; and for those who need to talk it through I'm sure return calls are warmly responded to. I used all three according to family closeness.

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Yes coops I think that you are being unreasonable, give him the benefit of the doubt. A couple of years ago a friend died and his widow asked me to telephone a number of others on her behalf - she was not ready to do it. Had you been one of those that I phoned would you have complained about not receiving the information first hand ?

Of course e-mail has the added advantage of notifying lots of people at the same time, particularly here in France where time is of the essence.

John

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I'm sorry that you lost your friend and weren't able to see him recently. It is rotten news and there is no nice way to receive it.

I wonder how many phone calls the son had to make following the death of his father. It is equally rotten to be the bearer of bad news like this, and to spend hours on the phone to people when immediately after a death you don't really want to speak to anybody.

If he'd sent a card, you wouldn't know about it yet. I'm not sure we all act perfectly in times of grief (or stress)... maybe he could do with a call now.

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Hi Coops

I am sorry to hear you have lost your friend.  Doubly hard for you perhaps as you haven't been so well yourself.

Normally I think you talk a great deal of sense, but here I think you are just suffering from hurt because you have lost your friend.  My close (and only young) friend died in September last and I was with her every day until the end.  When she finally died her husband simply couldn't ring everyone and asked me to deal with the friends whilst he did the family.  I was already awash with grief and e-mailed a lot of people rather than phoning.  It was immediate (so they didn't feel hurt or left out) and it prevented me having to repeat the same thing over and over.  Sometimes people can't get to the phone at a convenient time, letters take too long.  Go for it and call the son, I'm sure he'll be grateful

love  Cerise

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Don't be too hard on your friends son. We all react differently when some one we love dies.

When my husband died I was only mentally capable of phoning very close family. I e-mailed every one else, making each one personal, rather than an impersonal ' letter to all'. I recieved many e-mails and telephone calls back. In fact I have kept all condolence cards/e-mails, you can't keep a record of a telephone conversation.  Contact him in the way you feel happiest.

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[quote user="cooperlola"]

Am I being unreasonable - is e-mail acceptable for such things these days?[/quote]

I think you're being upset - after the shock of hearing about your friend's death. You may have been expecting it - that only makes the shock different when it happens. It doesn't remove the sadness you must feel.

Only you know whether your friend's son is likely to be casual about his father's death and - as suggested above - an email to you (and others, no doubt) was because he couldn't be bothered to communicate "properly" with you... or because it was simply the way he chose to deal with something that was difficult and upsetting for him. You don't always make the best, most reasoned decisions when someone has just died. You don't always think of someone else's reaction when you're dealing with something yourself. What matters most, I guess, is how he treated his father when he was alive.

Sorry for your loss, Deb.

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[quote user="Catalpa"] What matters most, I guess, is how he treated his father when he was alive.

[/quote]That's probably another part of the reason I'm annoyed....

When my father and my sister died, I phoned all their close friends, and wrote to those they didn't see so much of.  It wouldn't have occured to me to send an e-mail.  But then I guess I got a lot of comfort from talking about two people who mattered so much to me, with those who felt the same way.  But yes, I guess it takes all sorts.  However, in spite of what appears to be the majority opinion, I would never do this myself - I felt it was really thoughtless, given how close we were.

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I think that you have a different perception of email to me. What you seem to imply is that somehow email is 'second best'

Surely it's possible to write as well by email as in a handwritten letter?

I don't think which  medium you use is important, and I haven't sent a written letter for years.

I certainly wouldn't be insulted to receive an email, and just recently when I had to contact my family because I had another bout of illness that I had to tell them about, but at the same time wanted to play it down so as not to alarm them too much, I quite automatically sent an email .

On the other hand it is very important to distinguish between the  quick 'confirm the meeting at 2:30' type message, your example, where I would hope the  the style used was up to the situation.

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Very sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, Deb.  My condolences.

I'm wondering whether this is a matter of the generation gap. I don't know how old your friend's son is, but I'm betting that if he is under 40, he would consider an email a perfectly normal way of writing to someone and not as something casual or offhand. I can't remember when I last had a proper letter from my two adult children (40 and 37). They always commnunicate by email or phone, more often the former as they can always dash off an email, even when it isn't possible or convenient to phone. I feel sure that your friend's son didn't mean any disrespect to you and would be surprised and sorry to know how this has upset you.

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Everyone is different and so are the circumstances. If you phone people, who should you phone? family of course? all the sisters, brothers, cousins, nephews, niece's, thats thirty then; how many friends, colleagues, work associates? are they all in? are they free to talk? do you want to?
Just how many calls could you make to give the news that you've been dreading and everyone else has been expecting. What buffer should the bereaved have? for those who are expecting the puff of black smoke then a personal text does it and gives them the freedom to call back (or not) when free, and for those who need more words then a personal e-mail is made for it, they can mail or call back. A letter may be more gracious but so much slower and not any more communicative. When you are obliged to do this thing, in the moment of personal grief, after the first few calls, going through the address book you realise just what the toll is.
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Coops - I'm sorry to hear of your loss and your sadness is tinged with the ongoing problem of your immobility.

Your friends' son is now an orphan. When parents are no longer around, whatever your age, it is like being without a rudder.  They are no longer there to say, for example, that an email isn't perhaps such a good thing to our generation.

 

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The son is two years older than me.  There are no aunts and uncles etc.  The chap in question had his son, his neighbours, and me.  At his 80th birthday, I was the one whom his son asked to make the speech, so he knows this. Hardly anybody else ever visited him any more and nobody stayed with him but me.  But heck, that's not really the point.  My post was not about a competition to place myself on a list of importance, and I really wouldn't have minded if a mutual friend (of which there are a few) had been asked to call.  I've been jumping out of my skin every time the phone rang at a funny time for several weeks now.  I was flabergasted (sp) when the news came in an e-mail.  But obviously I should learn to expect this more and more as I get older and more grumpy myself.[:)]
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when my father died suddenly I notified several of his friends by email.

This was for several reasons - I did not have their snail-mail addresses or phone numbers, and although I knew of them and about them I did not actually know them so would not have wanted to have to contact them directly at that time, and it was immediate not like waiting for the post to get there. Dad used email a lot to keep in touch with his friends so it seemed appropriate, and it took some of the pressure off Mum as every time the phone rang she would have to go through it all again.

Without fail all those I emailed were grateful to have been told the sad news, and that way they found out directly and not weeks later.
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I notified people of my father's death by a few phone calls and some emails, and asking them to pass it on to others who we knew. A distant family relative did complain that they didn't receive a personal phone call but what they didn't take into account was that I was trying to arrange the funeral, sort out all the arrangements, clear out the house and dispose of things whilst trying to hold down a demanding full-time job (I only received a few days' compassionate leave ... not enough!!). Oh, and trying to hold back my own grief in order to get these jobs done.

In the past perhaps people had the luxury of time to write personal letters (but of course we wouldn't trust the post to deliver on time now). Each phone call might take, say, 15 minutes because each person wants to know the causes of death, give their condolences and advice, etc. You can't rush these phone calls. Plus we all know so many more people nowadays .... often numbering into the several dozens or even hundreds. So a few phone calls to immediate family members asking them to spread the word, plus emails to others .... well that probably is the modern way but there just wasn't enough time, before the funeral, to speak to every single person.

I know Coops must be upset, and I understand that, and I'm sure no offence was meant. But today's world is rushed and busy and holding on to a job can be a struggle ...., life goes o n for the living.
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Just a thought Cooperlola, I believe that you are still imprisoned in hospital yes?

Perhaps the son thought that it was the better way to contact you direct (assuming that he knew you were using your computer there) avoiding you getting the news second hand, albeit from your husband?

Editted

Of course he could have written to you at the hospital, like you I would have much preffered to receive a letter especially when I was hospitalised.

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So sorry to hear about the terrible news of your friend Cooperlola. It must be very sad for you and at such a difficult time. As others have said perhaps give the son the benefit of the doubt because it must be a horrible and very difficult time for him too. My thoughts are with you again.
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[quote user="cooperlola"]The son is two years older than me.  There are no aunts and uncles etc.  The chap in question had his son, his neighbours, and me.  At his 80th birthday, I was the one whom his son asked to make the speech, so he knows this. Hardly anybody else ever visited him any more and nobody stayed with him but me.  But heck, that's not really the point.  My post was not about a competition to place myself on a list of importance, and I really wouldn't have minded if a mutual friend (of which there are a few) had been asked to call.  I've been jumping out of my skin every time the phone rang at a funny time for several weeks now.  I was flabergasted (sp) when the news came in an e-mail.  But obviously I should learn to expect this more and more as I get older and more grumpy myself.[:)][/quote]

I do understand your feelings, but different strokes for different folks, You could assume that he was not slighting you and may be finding that he is not in control of his feelings or actions either, perhaps if you respond in the way you would prefer by phone or letter now, a greater understanding of each other could be achieved in what is obviously a difficult time for both of you. Of course either way, I hope you can make it to his funeral.

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