About these ads

Archive

Tag Archives: grief

Hi Captain!

What do you do when someone who treated you badly dies?

I went to school in a small town, an “everyone kind of knows everyone somehow”-type place. This isn’t really my type of place, and I left to attend a big university in a big city. I return to the town during breaks, but I don’t think I’ve spent more than six consecutive weeks there since I left for college two years ago.

This morning, I found out that a guy who I knew (sat next to in high school band, had some mutual friends, our siblings dated), “Mitchell”, died in a freak accident yesterday. Since this is a small town, and I had mutual friends with him, my Facebook feed is full of “RIP Mitch” and memorial events being planned. Also, since I’m returning to said town for about three weeks at the beginning of summer for my brother’s graduation, I’m sure I’m going to encounter people who want to talk about Mitchell.

The problem? Mitchell sexually harassed me in middle school (and continued to be an asshole to me in high school). Given the memories of the sexual harassment, and how awful it was to be dealing with that as a mentally ill 12-year-old with DD breasts and lots of other body issues, I’m having trouble seeing all the happy memories and sudden reminders of his existence. So:

1. What’s the appropriate thing to do when people try to engage me in conversation about the death? Obviously, it sucks that he’s dead, and I would never wish that on anyone, him included. But apart from “Yes, that’s awful, and I’m so sorry for his family”, what else can/should I say?

2. Not many mutual friends know about the harassment- they think he was a great guy. I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but if someone asks for my Happy Memories or Nice Stories, what do I say?

3. What do I say to my mom? Since our siblings dated, she knows Mitchell’s parents, and since we were in band together, she knows that I knew and interacted with Mitchell. I don’t really want to tell her about the harassment- we don’t have that kind of relationship- but I also don’t want to pretend that I feel much beyond a neutral “someone is dead and that’s unfortunate for them and their family” feeling.

I’m in the process of acquiring a therapist who can help me sort things out, and I have tons of college friends who didn’t know Mitchell and can be a good Team Me, but I’m dreading the return to my old town. Help!

Signed,
Not a Small-Town Girl

Read More

About these ads

Dear Captain Awkward,

My mom died suddenly and unexpectedly 2 months ago. My parents had been married almost 40 years. A month after her passing, I accidentally discovered that my dad has been sleeping with multiple men he meets on the internet, at the gym, etc., and that he is also having sex in public restrooms. I don’t believe that my mom knew that this was going on, but I realize that that is a possibility. 

It was not a complete shock to me that my dad is gay or bisexual, as the thought had crossed my mind before, and after my mom died I had even considered that he might bring home a boyfriend in a couple of years. I imagined myself being very supportive and understanding in that scenario, but this sudden discovery at such an emotional time has really thrown me for a loop. The high-risk behavior is freaking me out and making me angry, if I’m honest. I just lost one parent, and I don’t want to lose another! Furthermore, the thought that he was likely putting my mom at risk, too, really upsets me.

I cannot stop worrying about how this might play out. I’m worried that he is putting himself in harm’s way and risking arrest, etc. I’m worried that the community that has been supporting him through the loss of my mom would disappear if this came out in the wrong way. Similarly, I worry about how my mom’s extended family, to whom we are very close, would react if this were suddenly revealed. I feel like I’m not able to progress through the normal grieving process for my mom because I am so wrapped up in the stress of this situation and keeping this secret. So, here are my questions:

1) Should I tell him that I know? Should I tell him how much I know?

2) If I do tell him, how do I do it and what do I say? Is it even appropriate for me to share my concerns for his health and well-being considering his sex life is not really any of my business?

Sincerely,

Daughter with a Dilemma

Read More

Dear Captain,

I am in my mid-twenties and my fiancé died in early 2011. I coped better than I thought I would (he was sick for some time before he died so there was time to wonder) and have continued on with my life in many ways, but I do still miss him and think about him everyday.   I don’t think that’s a bad thing at all, I loved him when he was alive and I continue to love him now he’s not. However, friends of mine have recently, gently, been bringing up the subject of me dating again and I find I need some advice on this.

My fiancé was the first man I dated that I really felt I truly loved and could spend the rest of my life with, which is a rare feeling I think. However, I do think it is probably possible to feel that with someone else, although it might take a while to find him. My main concern is that if I did start dating again, I think I’d always be comparing the guy to my fiancé and, because my fiancé was a) a wonderful man and we just sort of fit together incredibly well and b) I tend to view him through rose colored glasses because of his death; the poor new guy would have no chance of measuring up!

I don’t think I need to start dating right now but I do get lonely sometimes and I am still only in my mid-twenties and hopefully going to be kicking around on this planet for a good chunk of time to come. Plus my fiancé and I had planned to have children and that is still something I would like one day. So, not necessarily right now but at some point I would like to find another guy to be with.

Although I have talked to friends about this topic I don’t actually have any friends my age that have been in a similar situation and older friends/family whose partners have died are at a much later stage in life and have chosen to remain single. I guess my main questions are; how do I deal with the issue of comparing guys to my fiancé? Should I be starting to date again now on the basis that I will always feel like I’m not really ready or will I eventually feel like the time is right? And if/when I do date someone new when should I tell them about my fiancé and how much detail should I go into? I am not generally someone who is very comfortable with sharing feelings with people I don’t know well, but I have no difficulty in talking about my fiancé, his illness, or his death in practical (non feelings!) terms. I don’t want to overwhelm someone with too much info in the early stages of a relationship but at the same time I don’t want them to feel I’m lying/deliberately keeping my fiancé a secret. That last question sort of applies to making new friends too, actually.

Yours,

A Young (Not Quite) Widow

Read More

Dear Captain A,

I’ve been friends with my friend, B, since 2004. We had a short but really important lovership in 2006, had a hard breakup, but then rebuilt our friendship. For the past five years, he’s been someone I’ve considered family and my best friend. We referred to each other as ‘non sexual life partners”, threw giant Thankstaking and Xmas parties for our queer chosen families. We are both estranged from our families of origin due to abuse and have been super committed to being really solid people in each other’s lives. He has been the person I always picked up the phone for, the person I pick up from the airport, and the person who I’ve prioritized being there for. Over the years, we’ve done  a huge amount of mental health and physical health support for each other that’s been a work in progress, but that has felt really good in terms of us both being able to offer a lot to each other and also have boundaries. He is the executor of my will and my medical power of attorney person. And we’ve also cooked and eaten lots of food, traveled, laughed our asses off, gone to movies, thrown parties and film nights for our friends, nerded out over hiphop and poetry, talked for hours,  gotten each other jobs, gone dancing and to the ocean, and been super involved in each other’s lives. I thought we were going to be in each other’s lives forever. Our breakup and the way we came back from it built this huge amount of trust and solidness in how we’ve handled conflict. He is a wonderful person.

Read More

Young couple from Pixar Movie "Up" lying on a blanket looking at the sky, with a caption "Pixar created a better love story in 8 minutes than Twilight did in 4 books."Hello Stranger.

So, nearly three years ago, I got dumped. It’s not the first time I’ve been dumped, but it was the only time I’ve been in love. The problem is that I’m just not coping with it well. I still find myself missing my ex and the conversations we used to have. I still dream about her, and sometimes that ruins the rest of my day (or week).

I want to write her and ask her if there’s any chance she’d like to give it another try. If I thought she’d say yes, I would. However, I’m pretty sure the only thing that would result from such an attempt is that she would know I’m still hurting. She’s not responsible for the pain, but she is a good person, and she’d probably feel bad about it anyway.

So I have to move on. I’ve been on a couple of dates, but, while the women were perfectly nice people, I didn’t really feel the need to ever see them again. I’m guessing that I’m not quite ready to date again, but after three years, I don’t know what it’s going to take.

I want someone to cook for, to eat with. I want someone to watch movies and shows with, to trade books with. Someone to hold and be held by. Someone to kiss and be kissed by. I want to happy, and I want to share it.

But I have no idea how to get from here to there. I feel lost.

Thanks for your time,

M.

Dear M.,

This paragraph of yours is something else:

I want someone to cook for, to eat with. I want someone to watch movies and shows with, to trade books with. Someone to hold and be held by. Someone to kiss and be kissed by. I want to happy, and I want to share it.

Simple, beautiful, to the point, exactly right. You should have it! You will have it, I think.

Read More

Jerry Orbach as Lenny Briscoe

Protip: If you are feeling sad about a breakup, stare at this face for approximately 125 hours of Law & Order reruns and you'll be on the mend in no time!

Dear Captain Awkward,

I have never been in a relationship and yet somehow I often wind up being among the first people told about break-ups of others. Today a friend I haven’t known for long (couple of months but we hit it off right away) send me an email to apologise for not replying to my emails because her boyfriend had unexpectedly broken up with her. I don’t know what happened, but it doesn’t sound like it was a good break up!

I was at a complete loss what I should say and eventually merely said that to let me know if she wants to go for a meal sometime and that I find keeping busy helps. I suggested a night in w/ film/pizza/drinks (the usual) but I am not sure how to handle the situation should she want to do this. What kind of film? Preferably no rom-coms I guess. I don’t generally hug people although this feels like a situation in which I probably should…  My flatmate recently broke up with her boyfriend and we never spoke about it although I made sure to be around plenty for meals and stuff so she wasn’t alone.

As life goes on, I can only assume that as break ups are part of life, I will be in this situation again. What would your advice to awkward geeks be on how to handle other peoples problems?

Thanks,
Not-Sure-How-To-Help-People

Dear Not-Sure:

As someone who was recently a member of Team Sad Panda, I have a lot of thoughts about this. Well, one run-on sentency sort of thought like usual.

Read More

Fargo's Mike Yanagita sits at a table.

It's Mike Yanagita! He brings the awkward.

Dear Captain Awkward,

I’ve come across a situation that has really stymied me and I wonder if you can help.  I had a friend many years ago who was sweet as pie but who could sometimes be a little needy and suffocating.  I think he had a pretty serious crush on me, but nothing ever came of it and we eventually fell out of touch as I went to another city for graduate school.

He recently found me through Facebook and sent a friend request.  I looked at his wall and saw that he is recently widowed — I mean really recently, as in, a week ago.  It doesn’t surprise me that a horrific experience like that might lead someone to go looking for old friends, but it made our initial contact a bit fraught.  I added him back and sent him a note saying that I was sorry for his loss.  I said something neutral about how it was nice to hear from him, and sad that it was under such circumstances.  I aimed to be kind but without writing emotional cheques I couldn’t cash (“can I help?” etc.).

Immediately he started Facebook-messaging me constantly, including a lot of TMI about his marriage and his wife’s illness that made me kind of uncomfortable.  He made some noises about coming to visit and having coffee sometime so we can “catch up” (we live 800 miles away from each other).  He asked for my phone number so that we could talk in real time;  when I told him (truthfully) that I don’t use the phone, he asked for other ways to contact me.  If I don’t respond in a day or two, he writes again and asks why I haven’t written.  He strikes me as desperately lonely… but also maybe a tiny bit stalkery?

Read More

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,222 other followers