Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

It Is Never Too Late To Support a Grieving Friend

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel so bad. My good friend and neighbor lost her father recently. She and I had been talking about his illness, and I was supporting her emotionally to the best of my ability. But I was traveling for work when he died and was away at the time of the funeral.

I don't think she expected me to skip work to be with her, but I also know that she is very sad. I want to be of support now that I am back home. Do you think it's too late to bring up her father's death? He passed a few weeks ago. -- CONSOLING A FRIEND

DEAR CONSOLING A FRIEND: It is definitely not too late to reach out to your friend. The wound is still very raw if she lost her father only a few weeks ago. Losing a parent is incredibly painful, and it will likely take months if not years for her to be at peace with his death. The natural course of grief takes time.

I'm sure she will appreciate hearing from you and seeing you as soon as you are able to be with her. You can apologize for not being at the funeral. But mostly stay in the present. Find out how she is doing and if she needs anything. Often, being a good listener is the best thing a friend can do.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter is heading to a beach party with a group of friends this summer. They are all very excited. My daughter ordered a few swimsuits online especially for the occasion, and she just showed them to me. A couple of these suits are much too risque for her to wear. I let her put them on and show them to me. Then I asked her what she thought about them. She told me that she thought one of them was just not right. I bit my tongue in the moment, because I didn't want to yell.

I do need to go back and let her know which ones I think she can wear and which are off limits. How can I talk to her about this so that she still feels like she has some input but understands where I believe she should draw the line? -- SKIMPY SWIMSUIT

DEAR SKIMPY SWIMSUIT: It's good that you were measured at first with your daughter. At the point of being a teenager, she needs to learn how to make decisions that are smart for her. Asking her for her opinion was great. Your next step is to revisit the swimsuit discussion and let her know that you want to share your ideas with her about the remaining suits.

Tell her which ones you like and which you think are inappropriate. You must also explain why you don't think they are right for her to wear. If they are too revealing or unflattering to her figure, or if you think they will draw the wrong type of interest, tell her. If you are forbidding her from wearing any of them, get the physical suits and arrange to return them and get your money back.

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