DEAR MISS MANNERS: When I mentioned to a new acquaintance that my mother died 25 years ago, she said, "I'm sorry."
It struck me as odd, because I am 65 years old and my grief was resolved decades ago. Is it appropriate to express condolences regardless of how much time has passed since the death of someone close?
GENTLE READER: As opposed to saying, "Aren't you over that yet?"
It is a peculiar task to expect someone to assess the state of relative grief-over-time with anyone, much less with a new acquaintance. That this person wished to express her sympathy is gracious -- and Miss Manners would consider it less so for you to question that.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)