DEAR HARRIETTE: I know that people die all the time in life, but I feel like too many people I am connected to personally are dying right now. From little kids to former colleagues to a neighbor to a friend’s elderly father, it feels like everybody is dying. I’m scared to answer the phone these days because I’m afraid that it will be one more of those awful calls. It’s overwhelming. I am so worried that someone else I love is next. How can I manage these anxious feelings that I have? I know I can’t control who lives or dies, but I need to get a handle on how I am dealing with it all. -- Staring Down Death
DEAR STARING DOWN DEATH: First, I want to acknowledge the weight of your losses. It can be extremely difficult to know that many people you love have left the world. Since this is wearing on your spirit, you may want to seek grief counseling to help you process it. There is no shame in getting support as you work through this.
Beyond professional counseling, you can also make conscious choices to engage in activities that stimulate you and bring you joy. Exercise is a way to encourage good feelings and promote good health. Participating in events with friends who are uplifting is wise. Reading an engaging and positive book can help. Write down aphorisms and post them in your home in strategic places. When you are feeling down, you can turn to one of them to brighten your day.
In quiet moments, you can also think about each of the people you have lost and offer prayers and blessings to them. Remember the good things about them and what they contributed to you and the world. Claim the positive. This can help you release them in an uplifting way.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that my niece is having a baby. She is my second niece to decide to have a baby without being married. I guess I am old-fashioned, but I really do think it is going to be hard on her without the proper support. The family will rally, but I’ve already seen with my other niece that such support goes only so far, especially in a family that doesn’t have much money.
I want to recommend that my niece give the baby up for adoption. I think it will be better off in a loving home where there are resources to take care of the child. My family thinks I’m crazy to make such a suggestion. When I do the math, I don’t see another way. Should I do the breakdown on paper to show my niece what I mean, or should I leave it alone? -- Encouraging Adoption
DEAR ENCOURAGING ADOPTION: Tread carefully. Unless your niece asks you directly what you think she should do, you should keep your thoughts to yourself. If the opportunity presents itself, you can talk to her about the future. You can recommend that she list specific ways she intends to align with her ideas. She stands a chance of being successful if she has a plan. Encourage proactivity in her life. Be there to bolster that.
(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.)