DEAR AMY: I lost both of my parents (they died three days apart) earlier this fall. I am an only child, and my parents were a huge part of my life. I inherited a large estate and I’m employed as an administrator at a high school. Dealing with the loss of my parents, raising a young family with a supporting wife, dealing with probate and juggling my work responsibilities has been overwhelming at times. My question is, should I step down from my administration job and just go back to teaching in the classroom in order to focus on the other aspects of my life? What makes this decision difficult is that my administration job is my passion, and I was just notified that I will be honored as the administrator of the year for my region. Should I wait while the dust settles from the fallout of the loss of my parents before making a decision? — Struggling in California
DEAR STRUGGLING: I am so sorry for your monumental loss. This terrible series of events happened some months ago; immediately after losses there is a lot of tension, and the adrenaline of getting through these shocking days can keep you moving forward. When things slow down, the stress and grief can hit very hard.
My instinct is that you should not make a huge change right now. The general guideline is to wait a year before making big decisions after a life-changing loss.
You should seek immediate relief, perhaps in the form of a shorter-term respite from your job (of a few weeks’ duration) during which you could either take a leave or cut your hours way down. While I can imagine that contact with young people can be energizing and positive, the classroom might not be the best place for a stressed and grieving educator.
Seek professional grief (or group) counseling, look into meditation practices, read (if you can), exercise outside every day and hold your wife and children close. It can be very challenging for giving and generous people (like you) to learn self-care, but treating yourself with loving kindness will help you to heal.
DEAR AMY: I am a 60-year-old divorced woman. My cheating ex-husband gave me herpes. Because of this I have been reluctant to date. I have visited a website for people with similar conditions but didn’t find it acceptable. My question is, at what point in a relationship do you tell a potential partner that you have an STD? — Full of Fear and Loathing
DEAR FULL: I hope you will find a way to shed the stigma of having this STD, which is quite common (estimates are that 1 in 6 adults have genital herpes, though many don’t know it). You have done nothing wrong.
The time to disclose this is before you have sex (obviously). If you are dating someone and feel the relationship is headed toward sex, or if you want it to head in that direction, then you should disclose this condition in a plain and straightforward way, making eye contact and with your head held high (practice this, if necessary). If a potential partner can’t cope with the idea of wearing a condom, then he is not the right guy for you.
Many people in your demographic are contracting (and spreading) STDs, and there is some likelihood that any potential partner also has an STD. Always use a condom.
Don’t let this make you avoid getting to know new people. This situation may lead you to take your time when dating before becoming sexual with someone. Delaying sex in a relationship can help to build intimacy, which is very sexy. Check DatingWithHerpes.org for information and support.
DEAR AMY: I thought your response to “Looking to Move On” (the young professional who wondered whether to tell her boss that she eventually wanted to move to another job in another location) was spot on. I have hired and supervised many young professionals in a fast-paced digital environment and have noticed that a surprising number have a tendency toward “overtransparency” regarding their work goals. My advice to millennials: Your boss almost certainly knows that you will consider other jobs from time to time. Do not share with him/her every time you apply for another job or think about some new professional direction. You may think you’re being honest, but it will likely come across as immature and unfocused and may make your boss wonder about your commitment to your current job. — Been There, Seen It
DEAR BEEN THERE: Excellent advice. Thank you.