Dear Amy: My husband and I just found out that I am pregnant. We weren't planning this, but now that we're over the shock we are very happy. This will be the first grandchild for both of our families, and we know our parents are going to be thrilled.
However, I'm nervous about telling my husband's brother and his wife. They have been trying to have a child for more than five years. They've suffered through fertility testing and IVF, as well as a late-term miscarriage. It's been incredibly painful for them and for my husband's whole family. Their last round of IVF ended only a few months ago, without success.
I know that they will be happy for us, because they are incredibly kind and loving people. But I also know that this will bring up a lot of difficult feelings for them.
How can we be sensitive to them in announcing and talking about our pregnancy?
Worried: You are already sensitive to your in-laws’ situation and are kindly concerned about them. But if you deliver hugs and sympathy sobs along with your joyful news, this couple will feel condescended to and exposed. I think this news is best not delivered in person, where the couple might also feel blindsided and put on the spot.
You and your husband should email or call this couple to tell them, “We’re letting you know before telling other family members that we are pregnant. We are both aware of what you have been through to try to build your family, and our news is tempered by our wish that you weren’t going through this. We know you want the best for us, but we also want you to know that we completely understand if you want to have some space or are not inclined to celebrate.”
There is no need to be hush-hush around them. Don’t apologize for your own good luck. But let them off the hook regarding baby showers, so-called “gender reveals” (please, don’t have one), and any other baby-related hoopla. They might want to participate, or they might want to keep some distance (possibly a little of both). No matter what, you should be understanding and patient.
Dear Amy: I am a widow of three years, after 40 years of marriage. I have no children.
During my first year of widowhood, my friends and family checked on me often and invited me places.
Those invitations started to stop, so I asked to go places with them. Sometimes they would say yes.
I have many interests and participate in them on my own. But I would like these friends and family to ask me to do things with them.
What I especially dislike is the posting of their activities on social media. I realize that I am now an "odd" person.
I also realize that everyone has their own lives. Should I just learn to live with this?
Lonely: This is your new-normal, and to a certain extent, you will have to adjust both to the feeling of exclusion, and to the need to build other newer relationships. If you have asked to be included and are being rebuffed or overlooked, it might be best for you to “hide” social media postings that trigger your loneliness.
It can be very challenging to develop friendships later in life, but joining groups and/or volunteering where you are likely to meet peers will help. Making even one new and close friend will help to mitigate your loneliness.
I recently became aware of the term “elder orphan,” which describes someone in your circumstance. While I don’t particularly love this term, this phenomenon has been recognized because it is ever-more-common, and social media is helping people to connect. Consider joining the “Elder Orphans” Facebook group (facebook.com/groups/elderorphans) to meet others who share this status and to communicate about ways to support one another.
Dear Amy: I love your column and read it every day. I got a chuckle out of the letter from "Upset," whose ex-boyfriend surprised her by coming to work at her workplace.
Several years ago, I went into the office, which thankfully I didn't do very often since I was outside sales, and the new co-worker was my ex-husband!
Everyone thought it was hilarious! I said it was fine with me and never said a word about his work ethic.
True to form, he was gone in less than three months. Problem solved!
JoAnne: Well played!