Dear Amy: “Randall,” who went to school with my boyfriend, recently passed away.
I picked up a sympathy card but had reservations about sending it. If his death could have been prevented, should I still send my regards?
— Sympathy Deserved
Sympathy: Many deaths can be prevented. The one-car traffic accident, the fall from a ladder, failure to wear a seat belt or a motorcycle helmet, a misdiagnosis, a suicide, an overdose: Depending on your perspective, these deaths might be preventable.
Anger is a natural reaction to deaths that seem senseless or even self-inflicted. However, your query about feeling or expressing sympathy when you don't respect the views of the person who died merits some self-examination.
Digressing a bit from your dilemma, I have been personally troubled by a measure of what I can only describe as “gloating” when people who identify as anti-vaccine have died of covid. (I realize that you are NOT doing this.)
In my opinion, anyone who gloats over or celebrates another person's death really needs to have their heart examined. I see this as an unfortunate character illness amplified by the pandemic.
Sympathy cards acknowledge that a loss has taken place and express a hope that the survivors will find comfort. It seems easy enough to send a card, even if you are conflicted about the person who died. It is a basic kindness, but if you think this gesture renders you a hypocrite, then don't do it.
Dear Amy: A high school friend from 1975 (!) recently contacted me before Christmas on Facebook (I’m a woman; we had a “friends with benefits” type of relationship).
In his Facebook message, he asked if he could call. I said yes, he called me, and we had a very nice long chat.
Two days later he asked when would be a good time to talk again! I said that because of the holidays I was very busy, so I suggested that he call sometime afterward. He called me a couple of weeks later and we had another nice long chat.
Then he called the NEXT DAY, asking if we could talk again. I politely explained that this isn’t personal, but I have a very busy life with an aged mom and family nearby (as well as a stressful job), and that I just didn’t have a lot of time for long chats.
He has called/texted me a dozen times since then, but I have not answered.
I don’t know how else to tell him that I don’t want to be in touch. I don’t spend this much time on the phone with people I NEED to be more in touch with.
What should I do? I don't want to be hurtful, but this is over the top.
— Over It
Over It: You’ve already explained to your friend that you don’t have the time or inclination to have frequent extended conversations with him.
Your behavior now is consistent with your candid statement.
If you are inclined at some point (this should be up to you), you might take a call or text and just ask him, quite plainly: “What are you seeking here?” And depending on how he answers, you can respond honestly regarding whether you are up for any version of it.
Dear Amy: I’ve recently gotten in the habit of thanking my wife for everything she does for us in this household.
Lately, I've been thanking people for “being here.”
Last night at a drive-through, I thanked the young lady behind the window for “being here.” She responded, smiling broadly, “Oh, my gosh, thanks for saying that. I almost didn’t come in tonight! Have a good night, sir.”
The more I thank people, the more I realize that these people appreciate being appreciated. You might give it a try — and thanks to you for being here.
Grateful: My daily practice at the Dunkin’ drive-through is to make eye contact and verbally express my gratitude. “Thanks for being here” really says it all.
©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency
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