Her Boyfriend Died and I Didn’t Know What to Do

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for CaringBridge. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

sometimes in Tragedy we find our life's purpose

Remember last week when I talked about Ms. E and mentioned that she had strong-armed me into being her friend and that she had been through a terrible tragedy? She gave me permission to talk about it and although I would love to give the honor to Christopher and tell his entire story, I can only tell you the story from my perspective, with a little of Ms. E’s perspective intermixed.

As you know, Ms. E and I became friends during our last semester as undergrads at The University of Texas. We had a couple of classes together and we slowly became friends. I wasn’t the type to really “hang out” with friends and she is quite a bit younger than me so I just assumed she didn’t want to hang out with me anyway. I worked full time and she went to school full time. I had a busy schedule and she studied a lot more than I ever dreamed I could study. We crossed paths a few times here and there, but mostly we just talked in class and then also when she began working in the same clinic with me.

I do remember her talking a lot about her best friend, J, and her boyfriend, Christopher, but I never met them because we just didn’t hang out. One day as we were leaving a class it was drizzling and my car was parked on the other side of campus (at UT, that is a big deal, at least 30 minutes of walking) and I remember Ms. E and Christopher offered me a ride. Oddly, I don’t remember ever seeing C’s face. When I look back on that memory, everything is crystal clear (odd for my poor memory) except for his face…and I am pretty sure he at least glanced back at me to say hi.

In any case, that was the only time I came close to meeting C because only weeks after this, he died suddenly one night while sleeping.

Ms. E. and I had been working together for a while and I remember coming into work (I think) and hearing that C was sick and E was with him at the hospital. We got updates through the day that things weren’t looking good. I knew that I needed to go to the hospital, but I couldn’t bring myself to go for a day or so until one of the other office ladies offered to go with me.

I remember seeing E and C’s family and I remember hearing about C suddenly stopping breathing in the night. E had to try CPR and call 911. She had to try to save her dying boyfriend and I cannot imagine…

C never recovered, never woke again, and E had to make the decision to remove him from life support.

Once again, I knew I should visit the hospice, but I couldn’t until another lady went with me. Why was I so hesitant? Why do I feel I would still be this hesitant?

In the days following I spent a little time with E. We started to hang out just a little more and I just remember thinking that I didn’t know what to say or do. She was the strongest person I knew at that point. She still is, actually.

She asked me to help her pack up her apartment when it was time for her to move to graduate school. This is the biggest turning point, in my mind, for our friendship. I didn’t know how to tell her to pack up her life that she had with C. I didn’t think it was fair for me to tell her she needed to throw his things away or at least give them to someone else. On top of that, she had things from her junior high and high school days that she did not need, but who am I to tell her that? But, I did it anyway. I was awkward and blunt and I smiled while I did it to soften the blow. She and I made it through one room (maybe one closet, I don’t remember) before she had to just get through it all and move. I helped her clean and her family helped her move.

And I remember thinking that this strong beautiful woman did not deserve what she had been through, what she continues to go through, what steps are in her future.

friends at graduation

{I drove to Missouri to watch E graduate from U of M with her doctorate!}

E has health issues and family spread through Texas, Ohio, Missouri, and who knows where else. She has been through a rough life and her future promises to keep gnawing away at her. Her family and support system is what keeps her going (like all of us, really) and she remains a beautiful, strong woman.


For more than 15 years, the nonprofit CaringBridge  has served as a lifeline of hope, bringing together families struggling with illnesses and tragedies.

Sona Mehring, the founder of CaringBridge wants to share these important collections of stories to inspire hope through her new book, Hope Conquers All.

Ranging from young children with cancer, to adults awaiting transplants, these first-person accounts share the importance CaringBridge had in their personal journeys.

For uplifting tales to share with those who are in need of love and support, or even to just reflect on how brave these individuals were through such troubled times, learn more about Sona Mehring’s book and how to purchase here: http://caringb.org/hope

Have you or a loved one ever experienced a life-changing illness or event?


  1. Janet-

    You are so sweet to share my story. I do not blame you for hesitating to come visit the hospital and believe me, I remain truly honored that you did in the end. It really helped to give me a sense of normalcy to see caring people from work, during a time in my life that was the hardest (and still is!) thing I have ever gone through. Christopher was an amazing person- truly a wise soul. I wish you had gotten more time to get to know him. At any rate, I believe that God puts angels in our life when we need them most and your presence while I moved was the most touching and supportive thing anyone has ever done for me. You were so kind but gently pushed me forward at a time in my life when all I wanted to do was retreat into my pain and suffering. Thank you for stepping up and taking care of me throughout that time in my life- I am deeply blessed by your friendship.

    I believe that the kindness you showed me (even when you felt hesitant or in doubt), is one of the most beautiful and genuine forms of a true friendship and shows how people can support those actively grieving without having to have the “right words” to make it better. Thank you for your selfless actions during that most painful time in my life.

    I love ya sis!

    • janet says:

      Erin, you make me cry because I think that our friendship is truly God-given. Without getting all preachy, I am blessed to call you my friend. I wish that we lived closer or that I could make myself pick up the phone and call, but I also know that you are there and you know that I am here and that we would just pick up where we left off. I miss spending weekends with you and Corey and snoring on your couch (sometimes while you were still talking to me) and crazy shopping trips with sparkly pens. I hope you are doing well and that we will get to see each other soon!

  2. Tammy S says:

    Wow! E was so amazing to hold it together. I don’t know if I could have handled it as well as she did. I actually know someone whose son almost died and was in a coma for weeks. She kept us all informed through CaringBridge. I think it is an amazing site.

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