DEAR HARRIETTE: I lost my mother a few weeks ago. While I have been consoled and rallied behind, I have strangely felt OK throughout this whole ordeal. My mother and I were close, and it feels surreal to lose her, but I feel guilty that I am not as upset as everyone expects me to be. Should I get help? I haven't communicated this feeling with anyone. -- Keeping On, Philadelphia
DEAR KEEPING ON: People deal with death in their own ways. Your friends and loved ones obviously want to support you in whatever ways that they can. Sometimes that help can backfire if it makes the one in mourning feel inadequate. Try not to dwell on what others are saying. Live your life and think about your mother as she naturally comes into your awareness. Since you and she were close, that may be why you are managing well. If you had no unresolved issues, then you may not have anything to feel guilty about.
Allow yourself to move on at your own pace. If you are not feeling upset right now, you do not need to get counseling. There are five stages of grief that have been identified: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. It is commonly believed that people move through each of these stages before becoming resolved with whatever or whomever they are grieving. Pay attention to your mood in the coming weeks. If you find that you become agitated, upset or otherwise unsteady, that’s when you should reach out for help.
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my windows is placed directly above a radiator, making it hard to get curtains of a proper length that wouldn't be a fire hazard. Coincidentally, this window faces my next-door neighbor’s home. My neighbors leave their driveway floodlight on all day and night. It interrupts my sleep, and cannot be great on their electricity bill. Could I ask them to turn it off? I would never put my neighbors in a position like this. -- Conserve Energy and Sleep, Pikesville, Maryland
DEAR CONSERVE ENERGY AND SLEEP: This challenge calls for a two-pronged approach. Invest in a shade for your window. A shade will block more light than a curtain, and it will not hang below the windowsill. Many ready-made shades fit standard-size windows. Measure yours before you go shopping to be sure you purchase the right size. You can also have a shade made specifically to fit your window, though that’s likely not necessary. Make sure you have done your part in your home before you move to step two.
Now, you can ask your neighbors if they would consider turning their floodlight off at night. Explain that it is bringing light into your home and causing you discomfort. Point out that you have already invested in window coverings to try to block the light, but you need their help as well. Suggest that they put the light on a timer so it doesn’t become a hassle for them.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)