Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My daughter died three years ago at age 35 of pancreatic cancer. Three weeks before her death, my husband and I treated a male friend to dinner at our country club. He proceeded to tell us that, "I'm not sure you know that other people don't live like this" and elaborated that we are pretentious. I had been sleeping at the hospital with my daughter for three months, so his comment and his timing sent me reeling. After the dinner he called me and apologized for something else that he said and I tried to explain that this was not what bothered me. I got the sense that he didn't listen to what I said. After my daughter died, I tried for two years to socialize with him and get past my fury. Finally, I realized that I needed to end the friendship. The problem is that he and his wife did countless thoughtful acts during the time of my daughter's illness. I proposed to his wife that we remain friends but she declined. I ruminate over this, daily. Hearing stories of forgiveness makes me feel guilty. Yet, I have no desire to spend time with this man. Help!
DEAR RUMINATING: The path toward forgiveness is to accept and acknowledge the good in people, and then to make a deliberate choice to let the rest go. Picture the slights and slings and arrows bundled together, tethered to a balloon, and floating away.
I think it is important in your case to acknowledge the gifts these people granted to you, and understand that at the most challenging time in your life, a very unfortunate remark was made which revealed a very unfortunate judgment of you on this man's part. It was thoughtless, rude, and delivered to you at a terrible time (and while he was accepting your hospitality). What a jerk! You will feel best if you are able to marshal your own kindness toward yourself and soften toward others. Of course you don't want to spend time with people you don't like, and if you have tried and it hasn't worked, then you should accept this and understand that life really is too short to be with people who judge you so harshly.
DEAR AMY: I am sending an invitation to a woman I know who is in a triad "marriage" with children. Normally I would address this to "Mr. and Mrs. Jones and Family" or "Ms. Jones and Ms. Smith and family." How do I address it to a triad? Do I list all three names and then "and family"? For the record, I'm not sure of one of the names and I know none of the names of the children, but I do want to make them all feel welcome. Is the "Ms. Brenda Jones Family" appropriate?
Confused and Accepting
DEAR ACCEPTING: I love the contrast of your propriety as it applies to a polyamorous "marriage," which (for people who don't know) is a partnership, family unit, or "marriage" of more than two adults.
I'm assuming there are perhaps two women and one man involved in this unit.
First of all, double-check the spelling of your guests' names.
Here is a sample for how I would address this invitation: Ms. Marge Simpson Mr. Ricky Ricardo Ms. Liz Lemon & Family
DEAR AMY: Having just ended a four-year relationship with a man who could not put me or us ahead of his family -- ever -- I have to disagree with the advice you gave "Bereaved," whose husband of 18 months left her alone during holidays when he visited with his late wife's family. It's not kind or considerate for this husband to continue to go to his deceased wife's family for holidays, and not spend some of the time with his current wife's family, or be willing to invite and encourage his kids to come to their house. Her husband is not caring enough to listen to her needs. Trouble is brewing here, and I don't think you gave enough credence to that.
DEAR DISAPPOINTED: I reread my response to "Bereaved," and I agree with you.