Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Ask Natalie: Friend lost father to Covid-19 and is angry you aren’t by her side? Want to party now that it’s “green” but no one wants to go out with you?

DEAR NATALIE: I know we are in the midst of so many issues right now, but my best friend’s dad recently died of Covid-19 and they couldn’t have a funeral for him. I live out of town and obviously couldn’t travel during the pandemic to be with her. She is really angry with me, saying that I “should have been there” but there were a lot of factors as to why I couldn’t go. I’ve tried explaining this to her and she just gets really mad. Last time we talked, she hung up on me. I don’t know what to do. I love her. Any suggestions as to how to mend this fence?


DEAR GRIEVING FOR MY FRIEND: I feel so sad for both of you in this situation. My heart breaks for your friend that lost her father. What a horrible time for her. Not being able to go through the rituals of grieving are clearly weighing heavily on her. Unfortunately, sometimes when we are angry and hurt, we lash out at people we love. She probably on some level felt that you were a “safe” place for her to unload her pain. I’m in no way trying to diminish how that made you feel, but she clearly isn’t herself right now and the pain she is experiencing is overflowing into other relationships in her life. Instead of internalizing what she said to you, try recognizing where it is coming from. While it may have upset her that you couldn’t be by her side, we are still in the middle of a pandemic--one that claimed the life of someone she loved very deeply. Her response to you didn’t stem from logic, it stemmed from heartache and pain. Let her sit with that for a minute. Give her space. Instead of calling her right now, just send her text messages saying things like: “I love you.” “I am here.” “I acknowledge your pain and tremendous loss.” My Dad died last May and people have a tendency to say things that can make you feel worse. They don’t mean to, but sometimes validation is all that you are looking for. In a week or two, try calling her again. She may still be upset, but perhaps more willing to hear you. I do believe she will come around. Just let her know you aren’t going anywhere. And then let it be.  

DEAR NATALIE: I live in a “green” zone and I can’t get anyone to go out with me. I keep telling my friends that the bars and restaurants are back open, but no one seems to want to go out and it’s really annoying. What can I do to convince my friends that it’s safe to have some fun again? — GREEN LIGHT

DEAR GREEN LIGHT: Counties can turn “green,” but until people feel comfortable going out, you can’t expect it to be like a light switch. There is a hesitation to resume “business as usual” for many reasons. There is no cure for Covid-19. There is no vaccine. There are no treatments. There isn’t sufficient testing. There hasn’t been a strong national protocol put in place so alleviate people’s stress. You combine that with an economic collapse and some of your friends may not have the funds to “party.” Now that a second-wave civil rights movement is upon us, their attention and energy may be directed towards that. Perhaps they feel like partying is frivolous or inappropriate right now. All of these things could be just some of the reasons floating through their minds that they are afraid to tell you. But you need to hear them. Recognize that we are in no way out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic. As counties move into “green” phases there could be a second wave of cases of Covid-19, as well. Try to take a moment to recognize and understand that this is bigger than you or me. If you want to support restaurants right now, order takeout if no one is willing to go to the restaurant with you. Sit outside together and eat. Shop online to support your local boutiques. You can still do the things you want to do to help keep local economies going, but do them responsibly. We all have a small role to play in preventing the unnecessary spread of this virus. While I understand your desire to get out there and have fun, you can’t hold it against people who aren’t feeling that enthusiastic. Instead, try meeting people where they are and with a bit of compassion.

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: Have a social media platform? Use it right now to spread awareness and information on topics that can help communities in need. You can still be “on brand” and support your friends and neighbors. They are not mutually exclusive.

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