Sense & Sensitivity

Neighbor Needs Support After Loss

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m not sure how to handle a delicate situation. My neighbor’s husband passed away recently, and she is having a hard time. We were never close, but I am concerned for her. I want to be able to support her, but my husband doesn’t like her. He has a good friend who has filled his head with terrible stories about her, so he doesn’t want me to associate with her. I kept my distance for years because of my husband’s perspective, but now she needs support. How do I break the invisible line and lend a hand without offending my husband? -- In Mourning, New Orleans

DEAR IN MOURNING: Talk to your husband and let him know that you feel compelled to support your neighbor during her time of grieving. Point out that you hope neighbors would rally on your behalf if anything happened to him. Let him know you feel it’s important to help out in whatever ways you can through this fresh time of mourning.

Then, because you know of his sensitivities, be mindful not to bring home stories about this woman and her suffering too often. Be a good neighbor and do what you can, but resist the temptation to win your husband over into liking her. If it happens, fine, but do not make that your objective.

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