Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: Because of a job opportunity with the company he works for, my son and his wife will leave the country for at least three years. I am devastated over this move. We are very close. His wife is a sweetheart. They live nearby and we see each other often, visiting each other’s homes. It is bad enough that he is moving to a foreign country, but this country has recently had terrorist activities, where innocent people have lost their lives. So not only do I feel sad, but I now fear for their safety. Three years is an eternity to me. I cry constantly and sometimes have a hard time even getting out of bed in the morning to go to work. To make matters worse, my mother passed away six months ago and I am still reeling over that loss because we were so close. How can I accept a situation that I can’t change and still be able to live life? Everyone I know says this is a wonderful opportunity for them. I don’t see it that way. And if I hear “There’s terrorism everywhere” one more time I will scream! How do I get through this?
DEAR PAINED: You get through this the way we are each forced to get through anything — one day at a time. This is obviously very hard on you and the recent loss of your mother has no doubt intensified your loss now. Understanding that these two challenges are intertwined might help you to sort through your feelings. Your concerns about terrorism are understandable, but not necessarily rational — certainly because terrorist acts also happen in this country.
You should ask your son to describe his opportunity. Where will they live? What does he hope it will be like? Look at a map and/or Google a street view of his workplace and prospective housing. Plan a visit (the nice thing about visiting people overseas is that the visits tend to be long, fun and interesting).
I lived overseas for five years. There is no question that this is challenging for everyone, but — if you can’t embrace this choice, then you simply must accept it and cope with your grief in positive ways — preferably through talking with others who are also experiencing grief. If your depression doesn’t seem to lift — or gets worse, get a referral for a therapist immediately.
DEAR AMY: My husband says that when I help the hostess at a dinner party I am “demeaning myself” and that I’m acting like a servant. I have worked as both a waitress and worked in catering, so I know how to do this quickly and easily. I do not think I am demeaning myself. I think I’m helping. At some point before dinner, while the hostess is in the kitchen, I say, “What can I do to help?” If she does not need help, I just keep her company for part of the time. I am not sure if this is an etiquette question or a marital question. The last time we discussed this, when he said this was embarrassing to him, I told him he really should worry about himself — not me. If I am wrong, I’ll stop. What do you think?
DEAR HELPFUL: If your husband thinks that cooking and serving food is demeaning, then (obviously) you should remind him of this the next time you are cooking and serving food to him — or to guests in your own home.
However, it is presumptuous to dive into your hosts’ food prep, unless you are explicitly invited to do so. Your job as a guest is to be a guest — helping your host to entertain the other guests by engaging in conversation with them while the host is busy.
You should always follow the host’s lead.
DEAR AMY: I’m suggesting a solution for “Father-to-Be,” the man with the long first and last names who was trying to figure out how to name his baby. He should name the baby after his father and grandfather, using their first name as the baby’s middle name, and give the child a less complex first name of his own. They can keep the family tradition while saving the boy at least 50 percent of the hassle — middle names are usually shortened to an initial anyway, on paperwork and official documents. He’ll have several years to learn to spell the last name!
Elementary School Teacher
DEAR TEACHER: Great suggestion. Thank you.