Life Advice



Ask Amy: Grieving friend wants practical help

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Years ago, after dealing with this myself, I ran into an old friend from high school; her truck was piled high with her late-father’s belongings. We both stood in a snowy parking lot and traded teary stories about how hard this aspect of loss had been. And we agreed that until we had actually had the experience of clearing out households after a death in the family, we’d had no idea how lonely and overwhelming it would be.

If you are simply overwhelmed by the enormity of the entire task, you could ask your friend: “Can you come over to my mom’s house for a few hours on Saturday and keep me company while I sort through some of her things? I’m really struggling and could use a hand. I’ll bring the donuts.”

Dear Amy: I have always had a tumultuous relationship with my mom.

This past May, we had a disagreement that led me to realize that she will never love me the way that I need her to, and I'm tired of chasing after it.

As a result, I cut off contact and haven't heard from her in five months ... until this week.

She left a voicemail asking me to contact her to let her know how I am.


I'm not sure how to respond, or if I even should respond.

Our family has a history of not talking about elephants in the room, not apologizing, and not acknowledging hurt and pain.

I know I need to be OK with that.

I may never get an explanation or apology for our misunderstanding (or for the lack of emotional support throughout my life).


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