Dear Amy: My beloved husband left this physical earth 20 months ago.
I did not have a gravestone unveiling. Our plaque has his date of birth and date of death.
Recently, a close family friend went to visit our gravesite and place flowers there. She then posted a photo of this to Facebook and shared it with her entire “friends” list, some of whom I do not know.
I was a bit shocked to see the picture, which I found because I was scrolling on my own Facebook page.
I realize our gravesite is public, but am I wrong in thinking that she should not have posted and shared it everywhere without asking permission?
Am I a relic?
I found this to be disrespectful.
Dear Upset: I can well imagine how you must have felt to see a photo of this memorial marker on social media.
For me, this raises the question: Can we do anything anymore that remains private or personal?
I ask (rhetorically): Can we eat a meal, have an argument, do a good deed, or visit a friend’s gravesite without posting an update about it?
You could contact your friend and say, “I’m so grateful that you visited my husband’s grave. Thank you so much for honoring us with the visit and flowers. However, I was sad to see that you posted a photo of it on Facebook. Seeing the photo without knowing it would be there was a shock for me. I wish you had asked me first.”
Dear Amy: My daughter is 33, living on her own, thriving in her career, and in most aspects doing very well. She lives in a different city, so I only see her several times a year. We talk on the phone often.
When she was a teenager, she had an eating disorder (anorexia). We intervened and took her to an expert therapist who worked with her for two years. She developed many tools to deal with her disordered eating.
Stress is a trigger and can send her into anxiety disorder behaviors.
She is currently trying to relocate to another state, and I am concerned (mostly from her social media posts) that she may be dealing with disordered eating habits again. She looks very thin.
Her brother told me that he is very concerned, but he doesn’t feel she would be open to any concerns/suggestions he may have.
She is ultra-sensitive when I question anything about her eating.
When she was in therapy her therapist had told the family members that we needed to let her make her own choices about food — to put her in control.
I fear she’s dealing with her current stress in a way that is unhealthy.
How do you suggest I best help without alienating her?
Dear Concerned: As with some other diseases, eating disorders can flare, even many years after successful treatment. Stress is a definite risk factor, and can lead to a relapse.
Understand a basic truth: We all become most defensive when confronted with our deepest vulnerabilities.
Your daughter is an adult. She is ultimately responsible for managing her health.
Her eating disorder can be considered a chronic disease. If she had an auto-immune disease (also triggered by stress), you would want to prompt her to take care of her health.
Expressing your concern in a loving way might trigger a defensive reaction.
And yet you are her mother, and if you are brave enough to talk to her, you will be demonstrating that you care, that you are on her side, that you see her eating disorder as an illness and not a character flaw, and that you are available for help if she needs it.
Talk to her: “This is such a stressful time for you. I’m worried that your eating disorder could flare. How are you managing your health right now? Can I help you in any way?”
She may respond, “Mom, stop.” And that’s OK. You can respond, “Honey, I do worry, but I can handle my own anxieties. I just want you to know that I’ve got your back. Always.”
The National Eating Disorders Association (nationaleatingdisorders.org) offers helpful advice for families.
Dear Amy: I’m a bartender. Thank you so much for recognizing the role that responsible bartenders play in trying to keep our patrons safe.
Any customer who feels worried or unsafe should absolutely alert the bartender and/or security staff. We can often handle a situation safely and discreetly.
Dear Bartender: Thank you very sincerely for your service.
You can email Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.