Dear Annie: I'm a 55-year-young woman. On Mother's Day, I went to lunch with my family, at my sister's house.
One of my brothers was giving the other brother advice about something that was happening in his life. They were sitting across from me, and when my brother was finished, he looked in my direction, and I started to sing. It was only a few words of encouragement, but before I could finish, my sister said curtly, "You don't sing at the table."
If the dinner table is a way for the family to come together to communicate, was I wrong for singing? — Humming in Biloxi, Miss.
Dear Humming: We certainly hope not, or the two of us are in big trouble. We don't recommend belting out "It's Raining Men" at a restaurant, but a short little tune of encouragement at a family member's house should not be cause for alarm. Sis sounds as if she's strung a little too tight.
Dear Annie: I'm so fed up and sad that I needed to write you for a reality check. I cannot get over the insensitivity and apparent self-absorption of some of my friends and family.
A little over a year ago, my husband and I lost our dear baby daughter at 21 weeks' gestation. We were absolutely devastated. After over two years of infertility treatments (which family and friends knew about) and one previous miscarriage, we were thrilled to become pregnant again. When we lost our beautiful angel before birth, our world was shattered. I cannot even begin to express the grief, desperation, anxiety and fear that we felt, and continue to feel.
Many wonderful friends and family members responded to our loss with cards, flowers and sincere wishes. Others simply ignored us. I mean flat-out never even mentioned or acknowledged our loss. OK, fine. Some people are too weak to deal with others' pain. But what I cannot figure out is why these same people insist on sending us their babies' birth announcements. Worse, we've sent cards of acknowledgement and never have received a response.
Why is it OK for them to ignore us in our time of need, but we have to express happiness during their time of joy? I'm not even sure why I'm writing, because this feels so selfish. But I'm angry and, quite honestly, disappointed. What is your non-biased opinion? — A.T. in CT
Dear A.T.: You aren't selfish, you are grieving. Of course your friends and family members should have shown some sympathy for your loss, but when faced with a miscarriage, many people do not know how to respond — or even if. And when they have their own children, they should not have to contain their happiness, although they certainly could have shown more sensitivity. If you want to mend any of these relationships, it might be helpful to explain that their lack of acknowledgement hurt you deeply and you know that was not their intent. It could open up a healing dialogue for all of you.
Dear Annie: I am a retired senior citizen, and I volunteer at a senior center where I have been assigned a co-worker. "Ted" is nice, but he has a personal habit that drives me up the wall. It isn't his fault, but Ted has a respiratory problem and is constantly expectorating. This nauseates me. I don't know what to do short of giving up this volunteer job, which I would hate to do. — Turned Stomach
Dear Turned: If Ted cannot help spitting, explain the problem to your supervisors, and ask if you can be assigned a different co-worker. We're sure they will do their best to accommodate you. There are too few volunteers around as it is.
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