Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I have had quite a few people who are close to me die in the past few months. I am in my 80s, so I know this is normal, but it is really getting to me. I feel like I just cannot keep going to every service. I don't want to be disrespectful to my friends who have lost their lives, but it is wearing on me emotionally and physically. How can I pay my respects without being in attendance each time? -- Weary, Wilmington, Del.

DEAR WEARY: I remember when my grandmother reached 100, she spoke about how grateful she was for making such a milestone and how grateful she was for the friends and family she had around her. She acknowledged that all of her peers were gone and that that would have been too lonely had it not been for the others who were surrounding her.

I recommend that you embrace living with gusto. If you have family or close friends, friendly neighbors, anyone who makes you happy who is living -- reconnect with them. If there are children in your life, connect with them. Children bring joy with the greatest of ease.

As far as funerals go, you do not have to attend them all. What you can do is call the family and express your condolences. Make it known that you will not be able to attend the service so that they are not looking for you. Send a card and stay in touch with the survivors if you were previously in touch with them.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I ran into a woman I have known for years and we got to talking. We had a few glasses of wine, and the next thing you know we had revealed some things about our marriages that should have been left unsaid. I feel uncomfortable now. It would be awful if either of us repeated anything that we said to each other. I'm not sure what to do. Should I reach out to her to ask her to stay mum or just let it be? We do not live in the same town and we are not close. -- Loose Lips, Chicago

DEAR LOOSE LIPS: Review what you said about your marriage. Is there anything that you should tell your husband? That is what is important here -- not what this woman will or will not repeat. Sometimes these types of incidents occur to keep people honest in their lives.

I do not recommend seeking out this woman to ask her to stay mum. Since you both shared secrets, you may both be safe. But safe is relative. Address the issues that came up from a sober perspective. Consider what is serious and what may have just been complaining. Drum up the courage to talk to your husband about whatever your concerns are so that you can be stronger in your marriage.