Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Belatedly Grieves Dead Father

DEAR HARRIETTE: My father passed away when I was 14 years old. Many think that it was traumatic, and it was, but I never had a great relationship with my father, so I hid my grief. My dad was negligent and abusive to me. There was never a day when he and I didn’t fight. He never fed me, bought me new clothes or took me to my dance rehearsals. My father also didn’t leave behind a will, so I did not inherit any money from him. So in short, I never had a close or loving relationship with my father. However, recently I have been having pains in my chest. It is hard for me to say, but I miss my father. Even though he did so many horrible things to my mother and me, I still miss him. Is it normal to feel this way? -- Daddy Issues

DEAR DADDY ISSUES: Grief presents itself at different times in people’s lives, often in a delayed manner -- especially for people who had unresolved issues with loved ones before they died. It is normal for you to have conflicting feelings rising up about your dad. Yes, it makes sense that you could miss your father and experience deep love for him even though he hurt your feelings. He was your dad.

Talk to your mother about what’s happening to you. Since you are having physical pains associated with your emotions, it might be worth it for you to talk to a grief counselor. Perhaps your mother can arrange for this through your insurance, or you can speak to a guidance counselor at school to find out if you can get support through them during this time.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband has an old college friend who has come back into the picture. She is very nice, but I also find her a bit clingy. She is single, and she is constantly asking him to fix her up on dates.

My husband is in his 60s, and we’ve been married for many years. He is hardly on the dating scene. Sometimes I wonder if she is trying to steal his attention. She makes me uncomfortable. At the same time, my husband seems to be happy checking in on her from time to time. They go out for drinks and have gone to a museum. I went with them once, but it wasn’t fun for me. What can I do to ensure that this woman doesn’t try to muscle in on my man? -- Jealous

DEAR JEALOUS: There’s a saying about keeping your enemies close. While she may not really be an enemy, she is a lonely woman. Rather than encouraging or even condoning drinks with her, invite her to join you guys at home for dinner and drinks. Create comfortable opportunities for all three of you to be together. You can get to know her. You can welcome her into your home and make it clear what your life is like while also creating space for your husband to enjoy time with his old friend without too much space for her to make a move, if she is so inclined.

(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.)