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Why do people say these things at funerals?

Dear Amy: I lost my husband almost a year ago.

After the funeral, many promises were made by my friends and fellow churchgoers that they would always be there for me in any way they could.

Those promises were sincere, I’m sure, but the majority just went on with their lives. I understand this.

My question is, why make these promises if you can’t keep them?

Honestly, I would have appreciated a phone call to see how I was, someone to drop by or invite me for a coffee. I will be alone all week until my son comes to visit on the weekend.

It’s been a lonely year.

Lonely Widow

Dear Lonely: I am so sorry for this loss, and especially for the loneliness that followed.

Often people make these promises after a loss, but partially fail to keep them because after the structured memorial events we don’t seem to have a cultural roadmap for what to do next.

People are wary and uncomfortable dealing with the loss of another, but as you point out, it’s actually very simple! A phone call, an invitation for coffee, a visit.

Instead, you probably feel dropped.

I hope you’re being a little proactive here. What about when you call to ask a friend if they can meet you for coffee? In particular, others who have lost spouses may jump at the opportunity to come together.

I also hope that you will rejoin your church family. Ask your son to give you a ride and stay for coffee hour.

Dear Amy: My husband’s mom and sister recently moved to our city and things have been bumpy. I hope you’ll think along about a disagreement that has arisen.

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My mother-in-law has a number of chronic health issues. She lives with her daughter ‘Jackie’, who is single. Jackie works from home and has a fairly flexible schedule.

My husband and I have two toddlers. We both work long hours away from home.

My husband and Jackie have struggled to strike a reasonable balance between caring for their mother. She does not need daily care, but she does have regular doctor appointments and does not like to drive.

Jackie thinks she and my husband should split the load 50/50. My husband thinks this would be right, but not fair.

He has many responsibilities at home with our children in addition to a much more demanding work schedule than Jackie’s. It’s also a lot easier for Jackie to fit in since she lives with their mom.

I think it is difficult for her to understand the demands of small children.



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