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home : columns : dear harriette April 14, 2021

12/7/2020 8:17:00 AM
Public comment causes hurt feelings

DEAR HARRIETTE: I really put my foot in my mouth. I was celebrating a member of my family when I was speaking in a public forum, and I said something that hurt my aunt's feelings. I feel so bad about that. My intent was to raise her up and let people know how great I think she is. I have apologized, but I wonder if there's anything else I can do. She said it was all right, but she definitely was not happy when we talked about it. -- Mend a Fence

DEAR MEND A FENCE: What occurred is over. What happens in the future, you can control. Do you know exactly why your aunt was hurt? Was it what you said or how you said it? Be clear on the nature of the offense; otherwise, you could unwittingly repeat it. Moving forward, do not tell stories about people in your life, naming names, unless you have checked with them first. Make sure that they agree to have their identities revealed before you talk about them in a public forum.

I say that, all the while knowing that one of my favorite writers, David Sedaris, writes in detail about his family all the time -- without their permission. And he has said that sometimes they get mad. He does it anyway. Even though he has made millions of dollars off of what some might call exploiting his family, I don't recommend it. Check with them first.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have several family members who are mad at me. A week before Thanksgiving, they asked if they could come to dinner at my house. At that point, the authorities were already saying that it was unsafe to do. So, I put the kibosh on it right then and there. One of my nieces told me that I was being selfish and that she was never going to visit me again. I held my ground. I am in my 60s with several health challenges, and I thought I should follow the guidelines. Then I saw that lots of people didn't. Travel skyrocketed during Thanksgiving. I pray that we don't have too many people getting sick behind it. Meanwhile, my niece is not talking to me. How can I get her back and still protect myself? -- Rift

DEAR RIFT: You did the right thing. By all medical and scientific accounts that I have seen, being overly cautious is the only safe way to go right now. The guidance given for Thanksgiving will likely extend through New Year's. This is with the intention of slowing the spread of this invisible, insidious disease. Whether you had health challenges or not, you should have followed the strict guidelines NOT to sit down to eat with people other than those living in your home.

That said, to regain your niece's closeness, reach out to remind her of how much you love her. Tell her that you hope she is practicing safe engagement with others. Let her know you hope to see her as soon as COVID-19 is less of a threat. It may take time, but you need to play the long game now.

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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