Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Considers Wasting Away Like Great-Aunt

DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a great-aunt who took her own life when she reached retirement age. She was a domestic worker for her whole life, and when she couldn’t work anymore, she lived with my grandmother and felt like a burden.

One day, she sat on a sofa and told the family that she wasn’t going to eat anymore; she never ate another morsel of food. She died some months later. Her rationale was that she didn’t want to be a burden on the family.

I feel like I am in the same boat. I have not worked for several years. I have exhausted my savings; I lost my home and have no prospects of earning income. My family has offered to take me in, but I would hate to be a burden on them. Do you think I should just stop eating like my great-aunt? It seems like a slow death, but at least I would not be stealing food off my family’s table. -- Way to Go

DEAR WAY TO GO: Your great-aunt’s demise is tragic, even if it represents her taking control of her life. I pray that you will not make that choice. Instead, if you truly have no assets, you can look to the government for support. While this may be an arduous, unpleasant process, you may be able to find government housing for seniors that will take you in during this tender period in your life.

Don’t give up. Do your research to find help so that your family does not have to carry your weight and so that you can stay alive and vital. For more details, go to

DEAR HARRIETTE: My college student daughter came home with a ring in her nose. I am dumbfounded. I don’t mean to be a prude, but why would she do such a thing? She says she wants to work in the financial sector, meaning Wall Street or someplace like that. While other business areas may be more flexible, my understanding of the financial world is that it is still very conservative. I can’t imagine that a nose ring will be positive for her on job interviews.

I don’t want to be the mom who is always telling my child what to do, but I can’t imagine what was in her head. How can I get her to wake up and pay closer attention to the career choice she has made for herself? I don’t want her to fail before she gets started. -- Nose Ring Vs. Career

DEAR NOSE RING VS. CAREER: It is still your role to guide your daughter. Organize a face-to-face meeting with her where you agree to have a candid conversation. Ask your daughter why she got a nose ring. Bite your tongue, and let her explain. Ask her what she thinks the repercussions might be in her field of interest. Listen for her response.

Tell her what you know about the financial services world. Point out that as codes of conduct and style of dress are softening in many business arenas, to your knowledge, they are still pretty conservative in finance. Ask her if she has thought about whether the way she presents herself could affect the way that she is received in her field of interest.

Suggest that she reconsider the nose ring. Worst case scenario, suggest that she hide it or remove it for job interviews.

(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.)