DEAR NATALIE: My brother’s wife suddenly died. She was dealing with some health issues, but was only 47 and this was unexpected. She leaves behind two daughters (my nieces), who are both still in high school. It is a true tragedy. Even worse, my brother and my other sister are not close. He doesn't want me to tell her that his wife passed. I don’t think this is right. She should have the opportunity to mourn her sister-in-law, even if they were estranged. What should I do? He was very adamant about it, but I think it is a huge mistake. Any ideas? I know he is in shock by his wife’s death and this has upended his whole life. Do you think he will regret this decision? Should I take charge? –UNEXPECTED TRAGEDY
DEAR UNEXPECTED TRAGEDY: This is a tough one because you want to be respectful of your brother, but also you want to be respectful of your sister. The reality is, she will find out. Someone will tell her — cousin, a friend, or another family member. This information should be shared with the immediate family. If she finds out another way, this situation could be made much worse. She also has the right to mourn her family. Try talking to your brother again about this. He may have been in shock and isn’t thinking clearly. If he still refuses, you can still reach out to her on your own. Be mindful of what may happen if you do, but if you know and don’t tell her, now it looks as though you are also “against” her. She may want to just send flowers or come to the viewing during an off-time when your brother won’t be there. Death is complicated. Mourning is even more so. Everyone should be given the chance to grieve, however. I don’t think he has the right to monopolize that space.
DEAR NATALIE: Do you ever feel like the people you work with are just… incompetent? Lately I’ve really been struggling with the way a number of my colleagues and clients operate on the projects we work on. I feel like I’m always chasing someone down for an overdue email, an invoice, or to do something in a more efficient way. I’m trying my best not to be a control freak and know that everyone operates on their own timeline, but I’m like, come on people! A lot of them have been in the industry longer than I have, so I don’t want to undermine them by being too assertive, but I feel like so many things are taking longer than they need to. I don’t think the strategy for some of the work they’re doing makes sense, either. I work freelance so it’s not like I can just call an all-staff meeting with everyone in my life. I know I must be part of the problem if I’m the common denominator, but I really don’t feel like I’m being unreasonable. How can I change the tone and pace of things so that I don’t go crazy?
–DISGRUNTLED AT WORK
DEAR DISGRUNTLED AT WORK: It can be very frustrating when you see a way that things can be done more effectively and efficiently, but think of it this way: your check cashes either way. You can’t care more than they do. Broach the subject once. Offer solutions and ways to increase efficiency or more effective communication. But, if they don’t integrate it, you can either stay in your frustration and become passive-aggressive because of it, or you can roll with their flow and take note of all the things you now know “not to do” when working with people in the future. Setting the groundwork for future clients can also help to offset this, as well. At the end of the day, everyone is overwhelmed and overworked. Give some space and grace. When it gets to be too much, step back, take a break and take a walk.
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