Ask Amy: I didn’t reach out to my grieving friend fast enough

Dear Amy: My childhood friend of nearly 50 years recently lost a child to suicide. We usually only call each other on our birthdays and I haven’t seen her physically in almost 20 years.

I have struggled most of my life with PTSD as a result of a sexual abuse trauma when I was 17. I really didn’t begin to heal until my current doctor diagnosed me and referred me to a specialist for treatment.

Suicide always sends me to a dark place because it has been riding on my shoulder for so many years. My friend did not notify me personally; she posted the news on Facebook.

I saw she was getting a lot of support and I couldn’t bring myself to call her.

Months passed and instead I wrote her a letter of apology for my lack of communication, expressing as best I know how the grief I felt for her as I dealt with her terrible loss.

She has not reached out to me. I am filled with guilt over my reaction to her loss. I tend to reach out to people who have lost loved ones in time.

She has had a hard life, but in the past 25 years she remarried and took life by the horns and has done quite well.

However, I am just now finding peace because I have finally received proper treatment. I hesitated to reach out because of my own selfish(?) fear of my own instability.

Selfish: Your shame has sent you into a self-punishing spiral. Now that you’ve dealt with your own behavior, you really should stop making this about you.

You have no way of knowing how this tragedy has affected your friend. You have to assume she received, read and appreciated your thoughtful note, but this kind of communication doesn’t ask for a response (grieving people aren’t always able to respond), so don’t think the ball is in her court.

You should call your friend even if it’s not her birthday. Do not continue to apologize for or explain your reaction to her child’s death. Do not refer to your own trauma. Just tell her that she continues to be in your daily thoughts and ask her how she is doing. So listen to her with thoughtful compassion. If she doesn’t want to talk about her loss, look into other topics that the two of you have traditionally discussed.

Dear Amy: Recently, a long, good friend stayed with me as a guest for five nights at an expensive resort.

She is used to consuming drinks and snacks throughout the day.

I’m the opposite and keep a close eye on what I eat and always politely decline to order anything when she asks.

Last week she told me how rude it is for me to never eat anything while she does because she feels she shouldn’t be eating “alone” and it makes her not enjoy her food.

I was stunned yet politely assured her and reminded her that I am not rude but simply do not eat between meals. (She knows this very well.)

She went on and on trying to get a different answer from me.

I was hurt and felt like she treated me like one of her children or colleagues or like her husband.

I let it end and had no other answer.

Did I need to respond by saying I watch my weight and don’t eat or indulge in unhealthy donuts and such mindlessly all day or explain a health issue?

Is it necessary to order something (only to throw it out) so that my friend does not have to eat alone?

I don’t want to be rude, wasted, or scolded, and I don’t want to lose my friend.

Upset: You don’t have to eat with your friend to be polite. You don’t have to take her bullying and name-calling either.

Dear Amy: “Do not place” complained because her dentist spoke to her using what appeared to be “baby talk”.

Being in my mid-30s, I don’t remember spending much time with older people who did NOT have some form of dementia.

Unfortunately, it has a big role in my life, family and circle of friends.

This can also be the case for hygiene.

Been there: I’m sorry about your own experience with the elderly, but you also need to get out more.

Baby talk is not necessary when dealing with someone with dementia (which this writer does not have).

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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