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DEAR HARRIETTE: My aunt has been grieving the loss of my uncle (her husband), but she has been taking out her anger on the rest of the family. She doesn’t really answer any of our calls these days, and when she does, she’s very short-tempered on the phone. What is the best way to deal with this? I do not want to leave her alone with her grief. — Angry Aunt
DEAR ANGRY AUNT: Do your best to look past her insensitivity right now. While deep in the grieving process, your aunt may feel so raw that she doesn’t realize how she is behaving toward her loved ones. Remind yourself that she is in pain. Reach out to her anyway. If the phone isn’t working, send her cards. Text her to say you are thinking about her. Make her favorite food and drop it by her home so that she sees the loving gestures regularly.
Don’t give up on her. At the same time, you do have to take care of yourself. Limit the length of your interaction with your aunt. If you believe she is going to be rude or dismissive, be pleasant and quick with your engagement with her. Or stick to texts for a while. When you can’t take her attitude any longer, tell her that you love her and want to be there for her, but the way she is interacting with you hurts your feelings. Ask her to be more gentle. If she continues to attack you, step back.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve been working remotely for a little over a year now. I’m currently in an entry-level position, and of course I would eventually like to move up. I don’t make very much now, but my friend was telling me how jealous she is that I work remotely. She tells me that I have the freedom to work from wherever I want, go wherever I want — all I have to do is take my laptop with me. I am thinking that I should start taking advantage of the fact that I work remotely and spend my time and money traveling with my laptop. I’m sure that after I leave this job, my next one may not be remote. Is this a practical idea? — Remote Worker
DEAR REMOTE WORKER: First, make sure that you have mastered the duties of your job. That can be more challenging when you work remotely because you aren’t in the company of your boss to make course corrections as needed. Figure out a way to get regular feedback so that you continue to learn and grow and stay connected to the company.
In terms of traveling to see the world, figure out what you want to see, and map out a plan. Many people moved back home or to other interesting locales during quarantine, which sometimes opened their horizons and led to new employment. Others simply had wonderful adventures that allowed them to experience new cuisine, neighborhoods and people. Yes, use your remote time to explore your world — but only after you have set yourself up for success with your business.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.