DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who is the manager at her company. She is incredible, and everyone loves her. She is constantly making sure that everyone is taken care of, no matter the time of day.
She has been working overtime recently because of Hurricane Sandy, which impacted the lives of everyone at her office, including her own family. She spent her week off (due to the hurricane) making sure her team members were safe and accounted for.
Upon returning to the office, her dedication and sincerity have gone unnoticed. Her own living situation has been affected, so she has been living with me, and when she comes home, she feels empty and hurt. She has even contemplated quitting her job because she feels that all her work goes unnoticed and her team doesn't appreciate her.
I understand there is a lot of stress because of the devastation Sandy has caused to many, but I don't know how to comfort her. Of course, I'd like to say something to her team, but I am in no position to do that. How can I encourage her to press through this difficult time in her life? -- Sad Friend, Atlantic City, N.J.
DEAR SAD FRIEND: What many people across the country don't realize is how long people will be suffering in the wake of this horrific storm. Even those who were in the midst of it, like your friend's co-workers, may not have a good sense of how their lives have been undone -- especially if your friend has eased their burdens significantly.
Many people could be in a state of shock because of how their lives have been undone. Because your friend is a caretaker naturally, she went into overdrive to help others, when she actually needed some TLC herself. A simple thank-you goes so far, yet people can be incredibly rude and shortsighted about basic good manners.
Pamper your friend any way you can so she knows that, at least at home -- albeit a temporary residence -- she is valued. You might also recommend that she get some counseling support. Having a professional help her navigate this emotionally heart-wrenching time could be invaluable for her. It would be great for her to learn how to take care of herself first, even as she continues to care for others.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I received an email from friends, inviting me to their home for the holidays. I went to their house last year, and I got sick and was in bed for three days.
I'm not sure I want to go to their house this year. I haven't answered the invitation yet. How do I turn them down without hurting their feelings? -- Wary Guest, Chicago
DEAR WARY GUEST: Thank your friends for the invitation and tell them you have made other plans.