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Terminally ill friend offered me her husband

Tagged as: Dating, Friends, Health<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (6 March 2017) 10 Answers - (Newest, 15 March 2017)
A female United States age 41-50, anonymous writes:

My best friend is suffering from a terminal illness and said something to me that I'm not sure what to about. I'm divorced and haven't had good luck with men and she has been happily married for 10 years. She and her husband are truly great people and I think she was lucky to find him. She said to me that when she is gone, she doesn't want either of us to be alone and if I was interested in her husband, it was ok to date him. I'm not sure what to think of this. Her husband is a great guy and very good looking but since he was married, I'd never have considered pursuing him. I also wonder if at some point I should tell him she said this. Dealing with losing her is going to be hard on him and on me because she and I were so close, but I'm not sure what to do about this. Any advice?

View related questions: best friend, divorce

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A female reader, aunt honesty Ireland +, writes (15 March 2017):

aunt honesty agony auntYou should not even be thinking about this while she is terminally ill. She said this as she loves you both, but if you tell her husband it sure as hell will blow up in your face. He is going through enough at the moment, without you springing this on him, what do you think he is going to do be happy? No he will be even more devastated that his ill wife is thinking about him with another women, her intentions are good because she has a kind heart, but he may not see it that way.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (7 March 2017):

Why are you even thinking about what she said whilst she is still alive ? So what if she said it. People say all types of things when they are unwell , least of all dying

Your ficus should be on her , not her husband or anything she said or what could happen after she dies

If a friend said this to me , even if I secretly had a crush on her husband , I would simply not even think about what she said again . It seems almost immoral to entertain the thought of a dying woman , personally I couldn't do it

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A female reader, So_Very_Confused United States +, writes (6 March 2017):

So_Very_Confused agony auntWhen my mom was dying she told my father she did not want him to be alone and she wanted him to remarry. She meant it.

Your friend does not want her husband to be alone after she is gone but for now that's not anything you need to discuss with anyone.

Assure her you will look after her husband to the best of your ability (to comfort her) and then LET IT GO...

do not say anything to him , do not consider anything happening at this point.

Yes best friends and widowers can connect later on...but now the focus has to be on making her time here as happy and comfortable as possible.

Bringing this up with him is not going to do that... it will lead to discomfort on your part and his part.

Assure her that you will make sure that he's fine. and leave it at that.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (6 March 2017):

Honeypie agony auntI agree with YouWish,

This is her illness speaking. I'm sure she has told him to find someone after she is gone as well but that may not be4 what HE wants or needs - definitely not now.

NOR is it what SHE needs.

I wouldn't tell him either.

I'd let this be a non-subject.

It might take him ages to get over the grief and YOU may not be what HE wants to be with. She can't "make" him OR you work out. He isn't a lamp or object she can "hand" you to take care off.

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A female reader, Guardian wings India +, writes (6 March 2017):

This may also be an extension of her feeling bad for herself for having terminal illness and an untimely death. Natural and human to feel so. Reassure her by making her believe that every minute that's left is a blessing for her and people who love her.

Each of us is terminal. The difference is that we do not know when the end is going to approach and just hope it would be at a ripe old age. This fact needs to be taken in an optimistic manner to celebrate life instead of being pessimistic and take the "nothing really matters" road. Cheer up and cherish the last moments left. Make her write letters for the future, click pictures, go through old albums, tick some things off the bucket list, help her write something about her life and what she's learned etc.

Love and hugs.

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A female reader, Guardian wings India +, writes (6 March 2017):

Everyone dies someday but our relationship with them does not. Philosophically speaking there's nothing to be judged about what she told you.

However I doubt it is the wisdom speaking. The terminal illness must be taking a toll on her emotions, as she lays on her bed she's questioning if any of this would matter to HER once she's gone. She will no longer be around to feel possessive of her husband while she's leaving him and everyone else alone in pain. Newly gained 'worldly wisdom' combined with guilt, added to it is the fear of the unknown and absolute dread that she's got no time left has turned her into a person who is not fully an alive human being. She's halfway into being gone already. While she's still here she wants to do something that would make it easier for others and herself to let go. She's just being the 'saint' or 'monk' person now. It's akin to how old people speak when they're on their last legs. You shouldn't treat it seriously nor discuss it further with her or her husband.

If you think she will be receptive of what you are going to say, tell her that you're fully aware it is out of good will, love, care and generosity she wants that. However, although she'd leave you and go, your friendship with her or her husband's love for her is not going to go away or die. So as a respect for what you have as friends, you will still maintain to not be romantically involved with her partner. You will still be her friend and that would not feel respectful or right to do so. Tell her something in the lines of 'just as much as you wish we'd be happy people after you leave us, we wish to grieve your absence as we too love you equally'

If we were to run life based on the philosophy surrounding death, then nothing should matter at all, be it sins or crime. But reality is, that everything does matter at least as long as you're alive. As for after death, grieving and respecting the relationship the alive humans have with their dead loved ones is important for the peace of mind and in order to come to terms with the death.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (6 March 2017):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntConcentrate on supporting your poor friend for as long as she has left. Ignore what she said about her husband. I cannot even begin to imagine what an emotional time she is going through, knowing her time in this life is limited.

After she is gone, depending on what her husband's support network is like, you may find yourself in as supporting role to her husband. Don't forget you too will need support after losing your friend. Don't mistake mourning for love. Let the pain pass first, then see if anything develops.

I personally would not say anything to him about what his wife said, purely because I would want him to make any decisions for himself. Only if you two got together would I (perhaps) mention it at some far future time.

Stay strong.

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A female reader, YouWish United States +, writes (6 March 2017):

YouWish agony auntUhh yeah. Say NOTHING to him about it as long as she's alive!! This isn't the time to be acting on feelings! She is thinking more about being guilty and bad for leaving her husband alone after she dies, and it is highly inappropriate to consider her words as anything else BUT this emotion.

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A female reader, Campari Milano United Kingdom +, writes (6 March 2017):

I truly think that your friend is just worried about the man she loves and her best friend being grief-stricken and lonely.

She wants you to support each other. She is clearly intelligent enough to know that shared experiences, even grief, often bring people together. I think it is lovely that she wants to make sure that you wouldn't need to feel guilty if that happens. You have her blessing.

Just get through what is going to be a terrible time. Both of you get through it any way you can.

Do not tell the husband what she has said unless anything happens between you. The chances are she will say the same thing to him; but it is not your place. If you become more than friends then, by all means, assuage his guilt.

Just be the best friend you can be, to him, and her. xxx

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A reader, anonymous, writes (6 March 2017):

Your friend may be terminally ill, but she is still living. It seems strange to me that you are actually considering going to her husband and telling him she said this. That is probably the last thing he needs to hear right now, if ever. I know you didn't specify when you would tell him, but it seems like you are considering moving forward with this soon after your friend dies.

It seems like you were quite taken with the idea of being "gifted" her husband. To me that shows that you are not focussing on the issue at hand- losing a dear dear friend.

You may know that these are really nice people, but you have absolutely no idea if her husband will be romantically interested in you or if you two will be well matched at all on that level.

I think when she said this to you, her point was to offer you a generous blessing IF AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE you and her husband got together. Preferably in the far future, when he has had at least 3 years to grieve. I very much doubt she was envisioning that you would already be thinking this out and planning it out while she is in the final stages of cancer. She meant if it happened down the road. No one knows the twists and turns of life, and she realizes that you are two good people and wanted to let you know that she was open to it IF it developed naturally over time.

You cannot simply slip in to your friend's place and receive a husband like a "gift". Believe me it will not work that way. He will have years of grieving ahead of him, and I think you will be sorely disappointed if you get together with him after her death. Because he will be dealing with terrible loss and guilt, and all the 5 stages of grieving, and you will be a distraction but will obviously not have his full attention or love.

I do not think you are a terrible person, after all it was her who put some of these ideas into your head BUT I do think you are misguided and you are letting your imagination run wild with this.

I do not think it would be morally right to date him like that after her death, and I do find it odd that you are sooo susceptible to that suggestion. I think if things romantically go that way YEARS from now then go for it, but not now. "I'm not sure what to do about this"?! Do NOTHING about it!!!! You really shouldn't be eyeing her husband at a time like this.

She has been a good and generous friend, it is your time to repay her with YOUR respectfulness. Next time she brings it up, if she does, you should reassure her that if anything were to happen it would be years down the road as you have no such plans.

I think she may have actually just been trying to see if you did have any interest in dating her husband....and was hoping that you would comfort her by saying you were not attracted. OR she was talking years down the road long after the grieving was over.

There is no person in humanity who would want their spouse to immediately hop into the arms of someone else.

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