Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: My uncle just passed away. He was killed in a drive-by shooting not far from his house. He wasn’t involved in a gang; he was in the wrong place at wrong time. My mom was close with him and hasn’t been coping well. The police have no leads. Nobody is paying for this senseless murder.

My uncle was a single man without children, so it’s just like he’s gone. That’s it. It’s almost like he never existed. My mom can’t handle it. She’s been drinking a lot and crying. How can I be there for her during this hard time? -- Worried and Mourning, Jersey City, New Jersey

DEAR WORRIED AND MOURNING: What a horrible tragedy. Of course your mother is devastated. Her grief is natural, and it should pass in time. You are wise to seek help, though. Encourage your mother to get counseling from your church or community center. She can also receive counseling through an online therapist. Check out, a website that matches people with counselors based on their needs. In this way, for a fee that is often lower than average therapy costs, she can get help without leaving home.

You can also encourage your mother to see friends and family members. Suggest to loved ones that they come over to visit. They may need to be pushy at first in order to get her attention.

Finally, check with the local precinct to see if there is a status change about finding your uncle’s killer. If the case can be solved, that would at least give your mother some sense of justice.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Death | Health & Safety | Mental Health

DEAR HARRIETTE: I got kicked out of my house. My parents and I got into an argument, and they said I can’t stay there anymore. I’m 23 years old and trying to get my life together, but it’s taking time. I’ve been staying with my friend and his family for a couple of weeks. I am working, but not enough to get my own place. I don’t want to take advantage of their hospitality, but I’m not stable enough to go anywhere else. How do I show them how thankful I am? -- Struggling to Make It, Bronx, New York

DEAR STRUGGLING TO MAKE IT: Thank goodness you were rescued by your friend and his family. What you can do is be a great houseguest. That means volunteer to have chores that you are responsible for each week. Perhaps there are daily duties you can accept as well. Keep your area tidy, and be mindful of common areas. Give your host family space, meaning when everyone is at home, make sure you make yourself scarce at least part of the time. They should feel like they can be free to engage each other without you for at least part of each day. This doesn’t mean you should hide out. Instead, choose to spend some time in your room or in a part of the home where you can have some privacy as you give them space to live their lives as usual.

Meanwhile, save your money. Tell the family your strategy and timeline for moving on. Keep them apprised of your progress.

(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: Family & Parenting | Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors