Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a pretty strained relationship with my grandfather. He was not a great parent, and my father hasn't spoken to him in over 20 years.

Recently, I've learned from my cousin that my grandpa is going to pass within a matter of weeks. I already know my father would never go overseas for a funeral, but I think he may want me to. How do I broach this sensitive subject? My dad likes to pretend he doesn't care about anything pertaining to his father, but I know he secretly does. -- To Fly or Not to Fly, Cincinnati

DEAR TO FLY OR NOT TO FLY: My experience with the death of a family member or loved one, even when the relationship is strained, is that it is best to do everything you can to create closure before the person leaves the planet. The fact that your grandfather has had a strained relationship with you and an estranged relationship with your father is all the more reason why it would be good for you to get on a plane and go to say goodbye to him.

Rather than asking your father if he wants you to go, tell him that you plan to travel to visit your grandfather with the intention of offering your love and blessings for his transition. I also recommend that you do your best to forgive your grandfather for whatever bad things occurred between the two of you and between him and your father. Forgiveness is healing on both sides. It can make your grandfather’s transition more easeful, and it can help you to release any bad feelings that you have been harboring. You can ask your father if he wants you to share a message with his father during your visit. If not, tell him you will offer his love and blessings.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death

Co-Worker Sends Email Bashing Reader

DEAR HARRIETTE: My co-worker accidentally sent me an email about me instead of to her intended recipient. This email called me a “b---h” and used my name, so there's no wiggle room about who the intended target was. I have pretty thick skin, so this comment did not bother me. I know not everybody likes me.

Since the email, “Lauren” has gone out of her way to be way too nice to me. She even baked cookies and brought them into the office when I made a big sale. I am over the email and this fake syrupy behavior. How do I tell Lauren this without seeming like a B-word again? -- You've Got (Hate) Mail, Milwaukee

DEAR YOU’VE GOT (HATE) MAIL: You can take the high road and thank Lauren for making the effort to make it up to you for having sent that email. Tell her you forgive her for writing about you so unkindly. Add that your intention is to do a good job at work. Tell her you are sorry she has thought of you so negatively, but you hope that impression will change as time goes by.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics