Dear Amy, My childhood friend of almost 50 years recently lost a son to suicide. We usually only call each other on our birthdays, and I haven’t physically seen her in almost 20 years.
I have struggled most of my life with PTSD as a result of sexual abuse trauma when I was 17 years old.
I didn’t really start to heal until my current doctor diagnosed me and referred me to a specialist for therapy.
Suicides always send me to a dark place because it was on my shoulder for so many years.
My friend did not notify me personally; she posted the news on facebook.
I saw that she was receiving a lot of support and I did not dare to call her.
Months passed, and instead I wrote her a letter of apology for my lack of communication, expressing as best I could the pain I felt for her as she dealt with her terrible loss.
She hasn’t approached me.
I am plagued with guilt for my reaction to his loss. I usually contact people who have lost loved ones in a timely manner.
He’s had a rough life, but in the last 25 years he’s remarried and taken life by the horns and has done pretty well.
I, however, am only now finding peace, because I finally received the proper treatment. I procrastinated on getting there due to my own selfish (?) fears of my own instability.
How can i fix this?
Dear Egoist: Your shame has sent you into a spiral of self-punishment. Now that you’ve processed your own behavior, you really should stop doing this to yourself.
You have no way of knowing how this tragedy has affected your friend. You should assume that she received, read, and appreciated your thoughtful note, but this type of communication doesn’t ask for a response (bereaved people can’t always respond), so don’t think the ball is in her court.
You should call your friend, even if it’s not her birthday. Don’t keep apologizing or explaining your reaction to her son’s death. Do not make references to your own trauma. Just tell her that she’s still in your daily thoughts and ask how she’s doing. And then listen to her with thoughtful compassion. If she doesn’t want to talk about losing her, move on to other topics you’ve traditionally discussed.
Dear Amy, A good friend recently 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 am the complete opposite and keep a close eye on what I eat and always politely decline to ask for anything when she asks.
Last week she told me how rude it is for me not to eat anything while she’s eating because she feels she shouldn’t be eating “alone” and that makes her not enjoy her food.
I was stunned and yet politely reassured her and reminded her that I’m not being rude, I just don’t eat between meals (she knows that very well).
Well, she went on and on trying to get a different answer from me.
It hurt me and I felt like he was treating me like one of his children, husband or co-worker.
I let him finish and had no other answer.
Did I have to respond by saying that I watch my weight and don’t eat or enjoy unhealthy donuts and the like without thinking all day or explaining a health issue?
Is it necessary to order something (just to throw it away) so that my friend doesn’t eat alone?
I don’t want to be rude, wasteful, lose my friend or be branded like that again.
Dear Annoying: You don’t need to eat with your friend to be polite. You also don’t need to ingest bullying and advice from him.
Dear Amy, “No Plaque” complained that her dental hygienist spoke to her using “baby talk.”
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In my mid-thirties, I don’t remember spending a lot of time with older people who did NOT have some form of dementia.
Unfortunately it has an inordinate role in my life, family and social circle.
This could also be the case for the hygienist.
– Been there
Dear 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 Amy Dickinson.