DEAR AMY: I recently lost my dad to a quick battle with cancer. I'm two weeks out since his passing and have been dealing with the grief and aftermath of his death. While my family and friends have been extremely supportive, I've also noticed that a lot of them turn to me to talk about their own grief and other issues (like losing their own family members, pets, and general life grievances.) My dad's sister is also constantly texting my mom and me about how sad she is with his loss. Then she asks how we're doing, which can be a bit exhausting. While I would normally be happy to be a shoulder to cry on, right now it just feels like too much and restarts my own grieving. I recently had a dream where I thought he was still alive. I had to remind myself that he was gone. I don't know if maybe that's pretty normal with such a serious loss, but it hurts deeply and makes it difficult to do regular things (like work). Is there a way to kindly tell my loved ones that while I'm sorry for their loss/pain, it's just too hard a time right now to hear more sadness? I feel bad as they have really helped me, but it's just made life harder while things are so fresh. Your advice?
A from Minnesota
DEAR A: I'm so sorry you are going through this. I'm further sorry that people are behaving the way we humans commonly behave, when we attempt to communicate and relate, but instead seem to make everything about us.
Well-meaning people are trying to say, "I understand. I relate. I'm with you." Unfortunately, it is coming out like: "Losing my cat was just like you losing your dad."
Dreams after loss can be so upsetting. I hope you realize that this is not unusual. Your mind is struggling to comprehend the incomprehensible. I would urge you to open the door and let your father walk through your dreams. Your dreams may help you to find new ways to say goodbye.
Otherwise, draw inward — if you want to. Go easy. Go slow. These next weeks, you may struggle to concentrate. You will always be looking for your keys. Tell people: "I'm sorry, but I can't talk right now."
Be aware that your aunt is struggling, too. Perhaps connecting with her in some small but real way could help both of you. Is she having dreams, too? You might ask her.
The world may feel muted, muddy, and murky right now. Your frustration is creating a sharp edge to your reactions, but now is the time to be gentle, especially with yourself.
DEAR AMY: I have a close friend whom I adore. However, her husband mansplains for hours on end. He's knowledgeable, but never stops and never includes me. When I'm there for dinner, I'll sit and listen to him talk for about 15 minutes, then get fed up and leave the room (there are other people in the room) — usually to go into the kitchen to help. When I do, he gets up and follows me, continuing to talk. My friend recently told me that she does not appreciate his lecturing. I didn't respond. What should I do, aside from avoiding their boring dinner parties? Should I take him aside and tell him what I think, even though there are usually other people around?
DEAR TIRED: Your friend's husband might lack the ability to read social cues. He may not decode your real message when you walk away, but might respond to a blunt but polite, "Bert, sorry to interrupt, but I'd like to ask Cynthia about her trip this summer."
Your friend (his wife) should deal with this on her own behalf. When she mentions this to you, you should be honest. Encourage her to step up and do something. He might have Asperger's, ADHD, or another issue contributing to this behavior. Identifying can be a game changer, even in adulthood.
DEAR AMY: "Hurt" described his sexting addiction. You attacked him and blamed him for his addiction. People can get addicted to sexting and online porn, Amy. You should do your homework.
DEAR UPSET: I do understand that people can have sexual addictions, but I believe this is probably quite rare. Others use the addiction label to describe their own compulsions or choices, and well — sometimes I have to use my own judgment to call 'em like I see 'em.