Originally Published: August 15, 2016 1:57 a.m.
Dear Annie: I am writing to get your input on an issue I am unable to resolve or forget.
Over 50 years ago, I began a friendship with a co-worker and his family that was close and personal. Despite job changes and relocations, we communicated regularly over the years.
Two years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer, which seemed to strengthen our friendship even more. After surgery and treatment, he called one day to say that his cancer was in total remission and that he was cancer-free. We were both elated. However, his news came just as my nephew and niece were both diagnosed with cancerous brain tumors. Consequently, I became much more occupied with their rapidly deteriorating situations.
After three or four months of not talking to my friend – the longest we had ever gone without talking – I called to see how his battle with cancer was progressing. His wife, who I thought was also my good friend, answered the phone. After a brief conversation, I asked to speak with my friend. She then informed me, in a somewhat surprised voice, that he had died 2 1/2 months earlier. I was so absolutely shocked, stunned and hurt I could not say anything. I just hung up and cried. I later learned that she had notified many of our mutual friends, many of whom had attended his funeral.
Since that conversation, I have been angry and resentful of her, wanting badly to let her know how I feel. Should I? If not, how do I forget her and this incident? – Persistent Anger
Dear Persistent: I am so sorry for your loss. I could feel your heartache as I read this letter.
Don’t confront your friend’s widow. She was (and still is) in a deep state of mourning and didn’t mean to leave you out. What’s more, I don’t believe that you are really angry with her. I believe you’re angry that your friend died, and it’s easier to project this anger onto a person than to accept there’s no one to blame, because to accept that is to realize your powerlessness over the situation.
I think you are also angry with yourself. You feel guilty that you weren’t more in touch with your friend during this time. But it isn’t your fault. You had no way of knowing he would relapse. You were focusing on your nephew and niece, and rightly so. Although you weren’t physically by your friend’s side during those final weeks, you gave him 50 years of friendship and helped him live life to the fullest. That is what counts. That is love.
Seeing as you weren’t able to attend the funeral, find another way to say goodbye. Perhaps visit his resting place and say what you would like to say to him, or go to a place you two always used to go and meditate on the time you spent together.
Forgive yourself, and forgive your friend’s wife. I’m sure it’s what he would have wanted.
Dear Annie: I am writing in response to your column concerning the person who wrote in about her humming co-worker.
The letter writer may be suffering from misophonia, a condition with which I also suffer. Repeated noises produce intense anxiety responses in people with this condition. I have tried biofeedback, behavioral modification, psychoanalysis and medications, to no avail. Before you dismiss your reader’s responses as just “unpleasant,” please realize that some sensitive people have physical responses to repeated sounds (such as the current fad of “like” before almost any phrase) that are impossible to control and, indeed, are debilitating. The medication I am currently taking helps me to calm down a bit, but I have not found anything to control or remove it. – Living With Misophonia
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