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by AARP Online Community Members, AARP The Magazine, Sept./Oct. 2010 issue
In our online community, you can ask for — or give — advice on topics such as love, friendship, grief, parenting, or grandparenting.
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Dear Wisdom Circle,
Seventeen years ago I lost my younger daughter in a tragic accident. I've managed since then, but my older daughter got married last year and just had a baby. I'm elated, but I feel the loss of my younger daughter. I'm also friendly with a colleague who's given good advice in the past. Recently I told him I feel sad around the anniversary of my daughter's death, and he said I should just "forget about it." I was shaken by his response. Should I tell him how he's hurt me? — Intersan
"People often give these "slap-in-the-face" answers for one of two reasons: (1) They want to snap you out of your grief if they think you're slipping into despair, or (2) they really don't care about you or your feelings. You may have to examine this relationship and try to determine which camp your colleague falls into. I also think you should let him know how much his words wounded you. Give him the chance to explain his remark, and decide whether to reassess this friendship." — Oldieone51
"Judging by his reaction, your friend has probably been hurt in a similar way, and his method of dealing with grief is to just forget about it. If he's a true friend, you have to talk to him. I'm sorry for your loss. I lost my wife in 2008 and miss her every day." — Chuck-Sr
"I lost my parents 50 years ago and still sometimes feel sad when I think about them. It's natural to miss loved ones years later. What your colleague said was inexcusable, even if he said it without thinking. Maybe it's time for you to distance yourself from him; he may be toxic to your well-being. And, in general, you may want to incorporate mementos of your daughter into these occasions to express that she's missed. She's still part of your family." — Janist
I think my colleague didn't want me to get depressed thinking about my daughter's death and he spoke without thinking, as the Circle suggested. He believes that people shouldn't dwell on their losses. I considered confronting him, but I let it go, since we work together. Now I'm just wary about discussing personal matters with him (because of his differing philosophy), and so we limit our discussions to books and music. But if he makes another insensitive comment, I'll tell him on the spot that his words are hurtful.
Reporting by Audrey Goodson.
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