Dear Amy: My daughter lost her baby to an illness a few months ago. He was an overall healthy child, and his illness and death has been a shock. The entire family was devastated.
A month or so after this grandchild's death, my son, who also has children, started hosting large parties at his home for family and friends. I told him I did not think this was appropriate because of the short amount of time that had passed since this loss in our family. He said he was doing it because his children wanted to have their school friends and others over to their house.
My daughter and I did not attend these gatherings. I am disappointed in my son. Am I wrong to feel this way?
Still Grieving: I am so sorry for your family’s loss. The death of a child conveys with it a grief in a category all its own — deep, wide, long and abiding.
It is completely understandable that you and your daughter would want to try to (as in the famous Auden poem), “Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone, Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone...” Auden’s famous funeral poem aptly describes the griever’s desire for ordinary life to freeze in place after a monumental loss.
Of course you and your daughter don’t want to attend a party! Being around other children might be especially painful. But please understand that you don’t get to force, nor should you expect, others to stop the clock.
You son has children. These kids should be permitted — and even encouraged — to run, jump, play and dive into their friendships. They should also be encouraged to experience and express their abundant love for you and for their auntie. I hope that — when you are ready — you will let them fully in.
Dear Amy: My boyfriend of six months is usually so sweet and kind, but sometimes a joke will go too far or he will snarl at me for something.
I will get very hurt and not talk to him for a few days. When I'm not so sad and reach out to him later, he doesn't seem to care much that my feelings were hurt. Instead, he is focused on his hurt that I didn't talk to him for a day or two.
He seems to think that the relationship is fine as long as there is no conflict, but I know that there will always be conflict and that it's important to deal with it. He doesn't want to talk about the argument, except for how hurt he was. Is this doomed?
Fighting Mad: Your relationship is doomed, unless you and your guy learn to engage in some healthy conflict. Conflict is challenging; it is natural to run from it. You both find ways to avoid it — you by limping away and refusing to communicate, and he by focusing on his hurt feelings, versus what events lead up to them.
The way to a lasting, loving relationship leads straight through the heart of conflict. When he hurts you, intentionally or unintentionally, you should be brave enough to say so, in the moment — or as soon after the moment has passed as you can collect yourself.
Use “I’’ statements: “I don’t like it that you snapped at me. It hurts my feelings. I don’t know how to respond, because I feel like you are yelling at me.”
He then gets to explain himself.
The person who is at fault should acknowledge the other person’s feelings and sincerely apologize. And then that person should be forgiven.
Dear Amy: I'm a 15-year-old girl. Over the summer, I go to an all-girls sleep away camp in Northern Wisconsin. Technology is not allowed there, and therefore we don't get much connection to the outside world other than letters from friends and family.
This summer, my parents have mailed me your column on the daily for me to read and enjoy. My nightly ritual was to read two or three columns every night. My bunk mates and I would pass them from bunk to bunk for everyone to read. This often led to lively dialogue and debating our opinions on your answers or the subject. Thanks for keeping the conversations alive!
B: This is one of the sweetest and most evocative “thank you” letters I’ve ever received. I’m genuinely touched. I’m grateful for your parents’ old-school values and for the sweet and thoughtful girl they’ve raised.