When Dealing With A Tragedy, Do You Want To Hear From Ex-Friends?

February 12, 2018  |  

Kim Cattrall Sarah Jessica Parker


I hadn’t been paying much attention to the ongoing feud between former Sex and the City co-stars Kim Cattrall and Sarah Jessica Parker very close. That is until Cattrall threw a Molotov cocktail at her former friend this past weekend.

There has been a lot of talk as of late about the failed Sex and the City 3 and the drama between Cattrall and Parker due to the fact that Cattrall, who played Samantha, was pegged as the one who caused the project to fall through by not wanting to take part. She was painted as a troublemaker while Parker, beloved in Hollywood circles, was painted in a positive light by everybody but her former co-star.

But things took a turn when Cattrall announced that her brother Chris passed away. The 55-year-old was found dead after going missing from his home in Alberta, Canada earlier this month. Many shared their condolences with the 61-year-old actress, including her former cast members. But when Parker commented on the loss on Instagram, Cattrall had enough:

I found Cattrall’s response to be very strong, but I do I realize that no one knows the true story behind the friendship (if there ever was one) and falling out of these two ladies. When you have your reasons and you’re angry enough, if someone from your past reaches out when you’re feeling at your lowest, it can almost feel as though you’re being mocked. Hence a strong response.

I was reminded of this when one of my best friends lost her father recently. She received so many calls and messages from people that at a certain point, she stopped answering her phone because she just needed some time to think in peace. So when her former BFF reached out, the two not speaking for months after a dispute that left them both questioning each other’s character, she wasn’t happy. As she put it, “I was incredibly annoyed.”

The young woman found out about my friend’s immense loss on Instagram, and after deleting her number (since she was the one who initiated the falling out), she reached out via WhatsApp to send her a message. She told her that she was sorry about her loss and that “in the off chance that you need anything, let me know.”

My friend, already going through a lot emotionally, felt like it opened old wounds that she didn’t need to be tending to at the time. She could have gone ahead and ignored the message, or just simply said “Thanks” and left it alone. But instead, she told her the truth.

“What I need from you is a conversation.” She told her former friend (whom she’d been close with since adolescence) that after she buried her father and was in the right mindset, they needed to talk about what had transpired between them. And while I don’t think the ex-friend wanted to rekindle their relationship, but rather, just send her condolences, she agreed to meet up with her in the near future if she was still open.

That meeting hasn’t happened.

With those incidents in mind, I wondered if it’s helpful or hurtful to hear from someone who you fell out with, or don’t have the best memories of at an already tumultuous time. While it feels like the right thing to do, in some cases, hearing from someone you’re no longer on good terms while mourning doesn’t really provide much comfort.

Or maybe it’s about the way you do it. Maybe Cattrall’s major beef with Parker’s message was that it came in the form of a comment on an Instagram post about her brother’s death after they’d talked poorly of one another back and forth. (Other messages, including from Cynthia Nixon who played Miranda, came through calls.) And for my friend, it was the fact that this young woman she knew and cared about for so long felt the best way to reach out was to send her an “impersonal” WhatsApp message. But then there is the question of whether or not grieving people even want to receive a phone call from a former friend. What about a card? Or a letter? The best way to say something as simple as “I’m sorry for your loss” to someone in mourning has now become extremely complex, especially now that social media has complicated things. If it seems too easy, it’s impersonal. If there are too many attempts to reach out, it’s overwhelming. Anything in between? Phony. And if you don’t reach out at all? Trifling.

You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

But at the end of the day, the reasons for wanting to reach out and express your sorrow over someone’s loss isn’t meant to be petty. It’s meant to express support and understanding. And most importantly, it doesn’t mean it’s an entry back into your life. It’s someone believing that because of the time shared with you in the past, they owe it to you to say something about such a major life event. You don’t have to be overly grateful for the message or even respond. In fact, you don’t have to think very much into it at all. Because overall, what a person from your past does and doesn’t do during that time shouldn’t be enough to take your attention away from what’s most important — you focusing on honoring the memory of the loved one you lost.

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