DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother is in her mid-80s, and she is lucky to have a core group of friends who have been by her side since they were children. They go out regularly to lunch or shopping or to church. It's very sweet to see how they have stayed connected. What's sad of late is that several members of her friend group have died. One husband and wife died within days of each other. My mother doesn't want to go to any more funerals, she said, because it is making her depressed. I understand that. At the same time, these are her very close friends. How can I help her to balance what she does or doesn't attend? I can't go with her to these services, as we do not live in the same state. -- Grieving for Mom, Washington, D.C.
DEAR GRIEVING FOR MOM: Encourage your mother to continue her outings with her friends. These activities will remind her of the vitality that they do have. Talk to her about the friends she has lost as well, and learn about her state of mind. An unfortunate side effect of living a long life is that you do lose many loved ones along the way. Gently remind her of how fortunate she is to have had these people for so long.
Ask your mother about her current thoughts about going to funerals. If she feels she cannot handle it emotionally, do not push her. Suggest that she send a condolence card and call the surviving family members to see how they are doing. If she doesn't feel up to attending the service, do not make her feel guilty about it.