Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Charitable Reader Questions Giving After Layoff

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have contributed to a number of charities over the years. I feel good about that, because I want to support causes that I believe in. But I am uncertain as to what I can give right now that I have been laid off from my job. I am single, and I live on my own. I have no idea when I will get another job. I feel horrible that I cannot be generous right now, but I worry that if I continue to pledge to the 10 charities that I normally give money to that I won’t have enough for myself. What should I do? -- Dry Well

DEAR DRY WELL: Your generosity over the years counts for a lot. Whenever you have been able to give, you have done so. During this period, many people are finding it challenging to extend their generosity to charity when they find themselves lacking in their own lives. Striking a balance is what may give you comfort. Rather than eliminating all of your charities, consider choosing one that you continue to support, for now, as you re-establish personal stability. You may want to lower the amount you give, but if you give something, this may ease the emotional burden that you are feeling.

You might also look at the charities’ websites to learn what their essential needs are during this time. As you build more resources, give to specific efforts. Also, look to see if you can give something other than financial resources. Can you volunteer your time to help a charity? Can you donate some of your possessions for their benefit? Get creative.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been married for a long time, and my husband and I have come to terms with where we stand on lots of things. Now that we are dealing with a health crisis, it’s different. I am overly cautious, and he is nonchalant. He says we are all going to die, so why worry about it? He goes out when he wants and pretty much does what he wants, though it’s not usually that much or too far. We live in a suburban neighborhood.

Still, I’m nervous. I see the news. Everything says that we are in danger if we leave our homes. How can I get my husband to stay home? Both of us have high blood pressure and a few other things that are on the health risk list. I need him to take this seriously. -- Stay Home

DEAR STAY HOME: With your husband, review the guidelines for going outside, including covering his face and washing his hands thoroughly upon return. Remind him how much you love him and want him -- and yourself -- to stay healthy. Point out that your health challenges make you more vulnerable to the ravages of the disease.

If he balks at your entreaties, tell him that he will have to sleep on the sofa, because you want to live.

(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.)