Dear Amy: My wife was recently hospitalized, and like I did before, I texted family and friends to let them know about her status.
After each message, I received a lot in return, some asking questions that needed a personal response.
When my wife was about to be released, I received several offers of help with shopping and other household chores.
I had to write a tactful response to everyone, explaining that their eating needs to be carefully monitored, so I have to shop.
I have such mixed feelings on incoming messages.
It’s wonderful that family and friends care, but the volume of traffic requiring a response has been a burden to me at a difficult time.
What do you think is the correct protocol when receiving an update on CaringBridge, or via a mass email like mine?
Should people be thinking good thoughts but maybe not responding to them directly?
Respond with a trivial message of thanks / best wishes?
Or to show interest and attention by asking for more information, creating a stressor for the caregiver?
Thank you very much for the ideas in your column, which I read in the LA Times.
I look forward to your thoughts on this puzzle.
– M, in Santa Barbara, California
Dear Mr: I think it’s normal, rational, and thoughtful to respond quickly and directly to a CaringBridge post or group email when the post contains an important update about someone you care about.
I fully understand the stress that these messages can create.
However, while you cannot control when or how people respond, you CAN control their expectations for a response from you.
At the end of each of your email updates, you should include a few sentences like this: “Thank you all for your attention and concern. It means so much to both of us. Hope you understand that unfortunately I cannot respond quickly, if at all. However, I read and appreciate every post. We are fortunate to have so many caring friends.
Make this message bold so people make sure they see it.
It would also be helpful if you could designate a savvy and sensitive friend or family member to coordinate any needs your circle of friends can meet, whether that is helping out for a few hours with cooking, cleaning. , driving, or reading aloud to your wife while you rest.
Dear Amy: My daughter, “Shelley”, is in her mid-thirties. She got married three years ago and unfortunately the marriage ended a year later.
My brother’s daughter is now planning her wedding at the same location as my daughter’s wedding.
Shelley is very upset, hurt and angry that her cousin is considering getting married in the same place, knowing the details of her marriage ending.
Shelley asks for emotional support, a covenant, and a listening ear regarding her feelings.
I have provided all of these things but will be attending my niece’s wedding.
Shelley will not be present and will not allow my granddaughter to participate in the wedding.
I say it’s time for her to come to terms with her past and move on, and recognize that she is blessed to be out of wedlock.
I realize she’s disappointed, but I’m sick of hearing that her cousin is selfish and doesn’t care about her feelings. Her cousin contacted her to tell her about her marriage at the same location.
I recommended virtual therapy to her because she was very angry, which she attends.
– Stressed mom
Dear stressed: Your daughter is not allowed to try and control her cousin’s choice of wedding venue, but anyone can imagine how difficult it might be for your daughter to revisit the scene of her own wedding, so little long after the end of his own marriage.
Should she keep her own daughter away or insist that you don’t have the wedding? No.
You have done a great job of “mom” to this problem. I hope your daughter will be okay.
Dear Amy: I was offended when you replied to a step-parent “You are not the parent of this girl”. How dare you! In-laws ARE parents.
Dear offended: I have four stepchildren and have helped raise them.
However, “Upset Stepparent” never called this addicted adult daughter her “daughter-in-law”, only “my husband’s daughter”.
She hinted that she had never even spoken to this particular girl, which led me to conclude that she more or less refused this important parenting role.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news straight to your inbox.