:Just Don’t Have It In San Diego
Dear Just Don’t Have It: As I see it, you have two choices — respond by saying you have a “conflict,” or tell these relatives you would love to be there, but with the cost of a college education these days, you can’t swing it. (I vote for the latter.)
:Dear Abby: I lost my mom last year. It was unexpected, and my father and I are still hurting. Mom had a friend who never fails to tell me how the loss of her mother and her husband was much more painful for her than my loss. Every time I have the unfortunate luck of answering the phone when she calls, she’ll ask how I’m doing, then launch into how hard it was on her and I don’t know the true pain that she does.
I am sick of people telling me they understand how I feel and what I’m going through. No one knows the depth of what I’m experiencing, except maybe my sibling. I moved back home to take care of my wonderful mother. She was my best friend. I could tell her anything and she was never judgmental. I love her and I hurt from her loss.
Please tell people when offering condolences to just listen and be there. That’s what anyone who suffers a loss needs more than anything. Do not compare your pain to theirs.
And Abby, please know how sorry I am for the loss of your own dear mother, and thank you for letting me vent.
:Hole In My Heart In Ocean Springs, Miss.
Dear Hole In Your Heart: I’m sorry for your loss, too, and you’re welcome. Please know that no rule of etiquette says you have to listen to that woman’s insensitive prattle. The next time she starts, it is perfectly acceptable to stop her cold and tell her that when she compares her pain to yours she is being insensitive, and that if she does it one more time you will hang up. Clearly, she is not calling to see how you’re doing; she is calling to dump. There are times when you must protect yourself, and this is one of them.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips.Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.