DEAR HARRIETTE: It's been nearly a year since my mother passed away, and we still receive phone calls from people asking to speak to her. I feel like I relive her passing every time I have to talk about her death. I would like to know how I can manage the hurt of explaining her passing when people ask. My mother was loved by many, and I miss her. -- Missing My Mom, St. Louis
DEAR MISSING MY MOM: For many people, it takes a long time -- even many years -- to find comfort after the death of a parent, especially a mother. A mother's love is unlike any other, and for those lucky enough to have had a positive, nurturing relationship with their mother, it can be absolutely devastating to let go after she dies.
For what it's worth, it is only natural that you would feel sad whenever you have to tell someone for the first time about your mother's death. It's much like opening an old wound again and again.
What you can do to help ease your pain is to realize that the love these callers offer when they express their surprise and sadness about your mother's death is living proof of the value of her life. That knowledge is a blessing.
The best thing you can do is to get professional support. A grief specialist can help you talk and work through your feelings, your memories and your reality today. You also may want to read a helpful book called "Grieving the Death of a Mother," by Harold Ivan Smith. Good luck to you.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an etiquette question. Recently I've received a lot of invitations from people via some type of Internet outlet. Sometimes it's from an email. Sometimes it comes from Evite.com, PaperlessPost.com or some other such outlet. My question is, can I write a note to the host of the party via the Internet since the host is using the computer to invite me to his or her party? Normally I would send a handwritten note, but I'm thinking it's OK to hit "send" to people who are using the Internet to publicize their events. Is that right? -- Technologically Confused, Laredo, Texas
DEAR TECHNOLOGICALLY CONFUSED: You are onto something. Times are changing, and with our various means of communication come new ways of responding. So, yes, it is natural for you to respond with a lovely note via email to an email invitation.
I will caution you to be aware of where your message will go, though. For instance, if you respond via the website the sender used, your message could be received by all invitees instead of privately. You should decide what you prefer.
Also, for the host of a birthday/graduation/anniversary party -- basically, an event where people bring gifts -- it's worth noting that some people send blanket thank-you notes via email to all invited guests. That's OK, but it's still best to say thank you individually.