DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a 56-year-old woman who lost her job in late December. I was devastated and stricken with grief and loss and sadness. I alienated my family and friends, initially because I could not bear the questions/pity.
After thinking about the whole scenario, I wish someone would have just come and sat with me. But that never happened -- only constant phone calls (which I never answered).
Now, months later, it’s my birthday, and I have no contact with anyone. What can I do?
I want to make this right, but not be a burden on anyone. I am still depressed and working through this loss.
GENTLE READER: Retroactive suggestions are not much help, but this is why Miss Manners has the apparent cruelty to insist that even people experiencing tragedy respond graciously to kindness.
That does not preclude withdrawing from their company if that is what is needed at the time. But by simply shutting off all contact, you eventually convinced them that they were intruding, and you should not have expected them to barge through anyway. Those calls, had you taken them, would have been to ask your permission to visit, maybe just to sit with you. By the time of your birthday, you had made it clear that they were not wanted.
What you could have said was, “Thank you for your concern. I’m not up to seeing people right now, but I will get in touch with you when I am.” And then done so. So you should get in touch with them now, with an apology for not having acknowledged their kindness before.