By Doug Mayberry

October 2, 2017 4 min read

Q: Two years after my wife's death, I'm still grieving. During this time, I've isolated myself and spent a lot of time at home alone but haven't felt up to maintaining my house. I wiggle between rooms piled with papers, tax receipts and other items.

Although I don't need all these books and papers, the piles continue to grow, and I'm not throwing much away. I don't entertain, so I don't do much housekeeping. I just haven't cared how my place looks. Occasionally, neighbors come in to check on me, but I never invite them in.

I have considered having a yard sale for a long time but have been putting it off for a long time. I don't think I can do it by myself.

What can I do?

A: Look for help. Sometimes we can't address our own issues because we're too close to them. To start, it can really help to bring in an outside party who isn't immersed in the problem with you.

Do you have a friend or family member who would volunteer to help you? You can also ask around for a responsible person and offer to pay a reasonable amount. They can help you take charge of a clean-up, sale or donation of your clutter.

Otherwise, make a visit to a local charitable/thrift shop, and ask the manager for any advice they've learned from customers who have gone through a similar experience. An employee or manager may even be able to give you the contact information for an individual who could help you directly.

Take this process one step at a time so that you aren't overwhelmed. Start with one room and make a plan.

Don't procrastinate: You want to make your home livable again! Keep a positive attitude, and reconnect with the outside world. — Doug


Q: My neighbor is 89 years old, and his health is failing. Two months ago, he told me he has a brain tumor, but I recently found out that it was self-diagnosed. He just went to the doctor and had an operation, but I haven't heard anything since.

How can I find out what's going on?

A: Inquire politely, but don't push for answers. Health is a sensitive topic for many, and he may not feel ready to disclose this information.

Be respectful of his family's boundaries. If the news is bleak, they may still be processing the information themselves and can't deal with additional stress. Try to put yourself in their shoes.

Instead of seeking answers, offer your support. You can bring over food or offer transportation or any other small gestures. You'll attract more flies with honey than with vinegar! He may choose to share his news with you.

Support your neighbor through these rough times, and be thankful for your own blessings. Remind yourself to stay positive and enjoy your time with him.

Don't worry about the future so much that you forget to enjoy the present! — Emma

Doug Mayberry makes the most of life in a Southern California retirement community. Contact him at [email protected] Emma, Doug's granddaughter, helps write this column. To find out more about Doug Mayberry and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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