The Atlantic

Dear Therapist: My Friend Is Dying and Has Asked Me Not to Contact Her

I want to respect her wishes, but I feel hurt and confused by her request.

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Lori Gottlieb answers questions from readers about their problems, big and small. Have a question? Email her at

Dear Therapist,

My closest friend of many years is battling a very deadly diagnosis of Stage 4 breast cancer. She is single, childless, and not super close to her family.

She is generally a very private person, and I’ve always been the one who knows her best. About four months ago, I traveled out of the country; around the same time, she decided that she needed to disconnect from our friendship in order to stay focused on her own situation. There was no issue between us that caused this, and she’s confirmed that. She has told me that she just needs to deal with this stuff on her own and that it’s too difficult for her to talk about.

I suspect that she’s had more bad news, because that tends to cause her to retreat from others, and I worry that things are going downhill. I miss her deeply, and I’m also

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