Dear Amy: My wife was recently hospitalized, and, as I have done before, I sent messages to family and friends to let them know her status.
After each message, I received many in return, asking some questions that needed a personal answer.
When my wife was on vacation, I received several offers to help with shopping and other chores.
I had to respond strategically to each one, explaining that her diet had to be carefully controlled, so I had to make a purchase.
I have such mixed feelings about incoming messages.
It’s amazing that family and friends care, but the volume of traffic that needs to be answered is burdening me in difficult times.
What do you think is the appropriate protocol when receiving updates on CaringBridge, or via a large email like mine?
Should people think good ideas but not respond directly?
Reply with a message of thanks / best wishes?
Or show interest and care by asking for more information, thus creating stress for the caregiver?
Thank you so much for the insight into your column, which I read in the LA Times.
I look forward to hearing from you about this confusion.
– M., in Santa Barbara, California.
Dear M: I think responding quickly and directly to a caring bridge message or group email is common, rational and thoughtful when the message contains important updates about someone you care about.
I fully understand the tension that these messages can create.
However, although you cannot control when or how people respond, you can control their expectations regarding your return response.
At the end of each of your email updates, you should include a sentence or two like this: “Thank you all for your care and concern. That means a lot to both of us. I hope so.” You must have understood that unfortunately I can’t reply immediately, if at all. However, I read and appreciate every message. We are lucky to have so many thoughtful friends.
Put this message in bold print, to make sure people see it.
It will also be helpful if you can assign a sensible and sensitive friend or family member to coordinate a need that your circle of friends can meet, whether it is cooking, cleaning, driving or Help with a few hours of reading aloud. Wife when you rest
Dear Amy: My daughter, Shelley, is in her mid-30s. She was married three years ago and, sadly, ended a year later.
My brother’s daughter is now planning a wedding in the same place as her daughter’s.
Shelley is very upset, injured and angry that her cousin is planning to marry her at this place, knowing the details of why her marriage ended.
Shelley is asking for emotional support, unity and a listening ear for her feelings.
I have provided all these things but I will attend my niece’s wedding.
Shelley will not attend, nor will she allow my granddaughter to attend the wedding.
I say now is the time for him to accept his past and move on, and to admit that he is happy to be out of marriage.
I know he’s frustrated, but I’m tired of hearing that his cousin is selfish and doesn’t care about his feelings. Her cousin approached her at the same place to discuss her marriage.
I suggested virtual therapy for her because she was very angry, which she is participating in.
– Stressful mother.
Dear pressure: Your daughter doesn’t have the right to try to control her cousin’s wedding venue choices, but anyone can imagine how difficult it can be for your daughter to see her wedding scene again. So soon after her own marriage ended.
Should he keep his daughter away or insist that you should not marry? no.
You’ve done a great job of “momming” this issue. I hope your daughter will join her.
Dear Amy: I was angry when you replied to a stepmother, “You are not the parents of this daughter.” How dare you! There are step parents.
Dear angry: I have four stepchildren, and I have helped raise them.
However, the “anxious stepdaughter” never called the drug-addicted adult daughter her “stepdaughter” but only “my husband’s daughter.”
She said she had never spoken to this particular daughter, which led me to conclude that she was more or less denying this important role of parent.