Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY: My husband and I recently lost a baby at 23 weeks. This was extremely painful, both physically and emotionally. We have been faced not only with dealing with our grief, but also dealing with several health complications. During this entire experience we were extremely upset by the lack of response from family members who know we were going through this. My husband has a sibling who is going through a pregnancy. We also have cousins with small children who have not acknowledged the miscarriage. We are extremely thankful that many family members have helped see us through these challenges. We're at a loss for how to deal with those who have shown no support and who have not acknowledged that this terrible thing has happened. What should we do to get over this and move on?


DEAR APPALLED: Without question, not acknowledging your loss is wrong. Unfortunately some people deal with their own discomfort by becoming paralyzed -- or by trying to ignore an uncomfortable experience in the hopes that the discomfort eventually will go away. Family members going through a healthy pregnancy -- or with children of their own -- may feel self-conscious, believing that their acknowledgment of what you have been through will only highlight their own good fortune.

And so now it is left to you to ameliorate their discomfort by being transparent about your own.

Try to find a way to convey, "We're so sad. Our loss is hard to bear. It would really help us if you would talk to us about it." It is so unfortunate that grieving people often find they are forced to lead the way in guiding others on how to cope. This level of compassion and understanding is a very heavy lift, but being honest about your own needs ultimately should help you feel better.

DEAR AMY: My husband, children and I moved in with my in-laws. It has been a learning experience. The hardest part is that my mother-in-law cooks with old, sometimes moldy produce and expired canned goods. I have gotten sick a few times and it's just not OK with me. I'm not "allowed" to say anything because it could "hurt her feelings." My mother-in-law is always treated with kid gloves, and no one allows anything negative to be said to her, so I would be "completely out of line" if I said anything. We alternate cooking dinner, so at least I get clean food half the time. What do you suggest I do or say so that I'm not forced into eating rancid food while not looking like a monster?

Scared To Eat

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DEAR SCARED: You might influence this without rocking the boat if you offer to do all the food shopping for the household. If your mother-in-law has fresh ingredients available in her home, she will use them. If you have a local farmers market, you could take her with you and both pick the produce.

You don't say whether she insists on doing half the cooking, but one way to repay your in-laws' generosity would be to step up in terms of cooking and housework.

DEAR AMY: I read the letter from "Mourning Mom," and I feel that your response, while sound, is dated. Families today (and particularly women) ought to be more cognizant that our planet is rapidly running out of resources, and that one of the best solutions is to reduce birthrates. Those of us lucky enough to have access to birth control resources (and I count simple willpower as one of these resources) ought to use them to help mitigate the current population explosion.

Childless by Choice

DEAR CHILDLESS: Your argument is flawed. If you choose to be childless, then others should also be allowed to choose to have children. I'm not sure why you feel women (more than men) should be in control of protecting the world's resources; this responsibility should be shared by all.