DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to share a house this summer with an old friend I haven't seen for years. She also invited several other old friends. We all convened on a lovely home our friend had found in a beach community. It was fun to get together and tell stories and hang out.
What wasn't fun is that the main friend is a teetotaler. She doesn't drink at all. I felt like she was always watching and even counting our drinks. We were on vacation, hanging out, and every night we had wine and sometimes cocktails. It was weird to have an adult seeming to supervise and kind of judge the rest of us after she had been the one to invite us to come in the first place. It was awkward at times.
At the end of the vacation, she suggested we all get together next year. Honestly, I wouldn't mind meeting up with the others, but I have no desire to invite the judge and jury to come too. How can we ditch the organizer and get our party on? -- Party Over Here, Memphis, Tennessee
DEAR PARTY OVER HERE: This is a tough one. Do you think you could have a talk with your teetotaler friend before kicking her to the curb? She may not realize how judgmental she was being. She may be willing to try to be more relaxed if she truly wants to spend time with the rest of you.
As a friend, you may want to tell her how you felt about your time together and express your reluctance about doing the vacation together again. Even if you do end up going your own way, it will not be without giving her the heads-up. There's a very good chance your friend could discover that you and the others got together without her.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister's dog died this week. I know she is crushed. The dog had been sick for several years, and she did everything she could to take care of it. This included multiple surgeries and almost round-the-clock care. It was unbelievable to witness. She had to take out a loan in order to pay some of the medical bills.
I have children, so I know I would do anything for them. I see that my sister, who does not have children, treated her dog like it was her child. How do I console her now? -- Pet Heaven, Los Angeles
DEAR PET HEAVEN: Appeal to your sister's love for her dog. Tell her how sorry you are for her loss. Ask if you can do anything to support her. Find out if she is planning a service for the dog -- a popular choice these days. Listen to learn what will comfort her. By checking in regularly, you provide the opening for healing conversation. Remember, she thinks of her dog as you think of your children. Keep that in mind, and it will be easy for you to have true compassion.