“One of the first questions I ask my patients is, ‘Have any of your friends headed for the hills yet or has anyone unexpectedly offered to help?’” says Dianne Mead, a licensed clinical social worker at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Westchester, New York. “Oftentimes, people answer ‘yes’ to both questions,” she says.
Although the changing nature of friendships during crises like these can be distressing, it can also be surprising in good ways. Sometimes help comes from people you barely know, or from those you’d least expect. And sometimes the people who disappoint you initially come through for you later. “If a friendship isn’t going the way you want it to go, realize that it is often temporary,” says Mead. “Some people just aren’t good at a crisis, but as time goes by, they step up.”