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home : columns : dear harriette February 25, 2021

12/2/2020 8:10:00 AM
Separation from elderly mother wears on

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am so worried about my mother. She is elderly and not very well. She lives in an assisted living facility and, because of COVID-19, we can't visit her. Recently, two of her friends have died. At first we didn't want to tell her. We are worried that she may lose the will to get better and live.

Before the pandemic, we spent every Sunday with my mother. We all looked forward to it. She got to be with her grandkids. It was easy and fun. It's been almost a year since we have been able to see her. It's hard on us, but I know it's harder on her. And now, who knows when we will be able to see her since COVID is worse than ever. How can we encourage my mother to stay positive? -- Holding On

DEAR HOLDING ON: Find out if the facility has a tablet that will allow you to see one another when you talk. In this way, when you call your mother, she can see your face and the faces of your family members, especially the children. Call her regularly so that she can see and hear you. Talk about positive things that are happening. Ask her to tell you stories about things she remembers.

Be vigilant about connecting to her regularly. If there is a way for you to visit and see your mother through the window, make weekly visits like that as well. Send her flowers and small gifts that remind her of how much you love her. Again, remain vigilant and positive.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working from home and have been constantly on Zoom meetings for months now. My husband is being paid by his employer but he isn't working. He is also at home. Mainly he watches TV or sleeps. Sometimes I work until 7 or 8 at night, after which he expects me to cook dinner. Sometimes I am too tired to pivot to the stove.

I don't understand why it doesn't occur to him to pitch in and prepare a meal sometimes. It makes me so mad. It's not like he can't cook. Occasionally, he does cook, but it never occurs to him to do it. I am really angry about this. How can I bring it up in a positive way to get him to think about being more helpful? I realize he probably is feeling weird by not working, but I need help. -- Lend a Hand

DEAR LEND A HAND: Take a deep breath. Your approach is key to your success. Rather than placing blame in any way, speak to your husband and ask him if he would help out with dinner sometimes. Point out that you have had some long days recently when you worked well into the evening. Suggest that it would be great if he would pitch in on those long days.

Chances are that you might be able to plan this out. Take a look at your workload each week. Ask your husband if he will cook dinner on a couple of long days. Ease into it. Do not point out that he isn't working. Stay focused on the notion of helping each other out. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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