DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a girlfriend for four years during college; we broke up about two years ago, and it ended badly. We are no longer on speaking terms. That being said, I will always care for her, and I like to hear that she is doing well.
Last week, one of our mutual friends informed me that my ex is sick. There is something wrong with her lungs, and she has been having trouble breathing on her own for the past month or so. When I first heard this, my heart hurt and my immediate reaction was to call her. I got no response, and then I wondered if it is my place to reach out. Under these circumstances, what is the right thing to do? -- Caring Ex-Boyfriend, Cincinnati
DEAR CARING EX-BOYFRIEND: I am sorry to hear about your ex-girlfriend’s health challenge. It was kind of you to reach out to her during this time of need. It is also important that you not have any expectations about how she might respond. Given that she is ill, she may not be able to reach back to you even if she wants to. It could also be true that she does not want to reopen that door in her life.
Send her a get-well card and keep her in your prayers. You should not continue to contact her, though. Give her space. If you feel comfortable staying in touch with the mutual friend you saw, check in periodically to see how your ex is doing and if you could be of help. Don’t be pushy, though.