DEAR HARRIETTE: I am feeling emotionally paralyzed. I have taken on so much responsibility lately, handling the aftermath of my father's death and having to deal with his paperwork. I've never had to do this before, and it is overwhelming. Along the way of sorting through everything, I have made some missteps. I have had some heated exchanges with family members, with bankers, with a lot of the people who are part of this process of closing out his affairs. This has meant that on top of all of the actual work, now I have people mad at me because I have not handled everything well. I want to hibernate. I don't want to deal with any of the follow-up calls from people who are mad for one reason or another because the process isn't going smoothly. Obviously, hiding isn't a solution. But I am seriously feeling overwhelmed. How can I handle this situation better so that I can feel less stressed out? -- On the Brink, Detroit
DEAR ON THE BRINK: Rather than hibernate, can you take a few days off to rejuvenate? Maybe a long weekend where you relax and pamper yourself would be a smart idea. Getting rest is so important in having a clear head. If you have a friend or loved one who can be neutral about the situation and supportive at the same time, you may want to invite that person to join you.
When you are feeling refreshed, consider doubling back to the people with whom you have experienced friction and simply apologizing. Even if both of you were wrong, or if the other person was absolutely off-course, you can apologize for your heightened emotions surrounding handling your father's affairs as you also ask for patience, compassion and focus from them. To the best of your ability, keep yourself organized as you complete handling your father's business. This will help you to finish the work and be free to grieve.