Al­low for time to grieve be­fore mak­ing de­ci­sions

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PAUSE & PLAY -

Q-My brother passed away 12 days be­fore Christ­mas from brain can­cer. He was 43, and I was very close to him.

I’d promised my­self that if any­thing hap­pened to him or my adult chil­dren, I’d get a tat­too. I don't have any; it’d be mean­ing­ful to me.

My boyfriend of five months is against it. He feels that tat­toos look "trashy."

I sug­gested a heart with my brother’s ini­tials, over my heart.

My boyfriend said he wouldn't like that. I then sug­gested hav­ing the two ini­tials on my right-hand ring fin­ger (not a big tat­too).

My kids and my friends were sup­port­ive of the idea.

I was go­ing to com­pro­mise by get­ting a ring, but it’s not the same to me.

I know I shouldn't make any de­ci­sions right now be­cause I’m think­ing emo­tion­ally, not log­i­cally.

I love my boyfriend and he says that he loves me.

I have enough stress right now and I’ve of­fered to not talk about it any­more.

Yes, it’s my body and I get the fi­nal say, but I don't want to lose him or af­fect our re­la­tion­ship or love life.

Un­cer­tain

A-Al­low longer.

This is no time for a de­ci­sion that seems to mat­ter so much, though dif­fer­ently, to you both.

Your emo­tions are triply roiled by the loss of your brother, the sen­ti­men­tal time of year, and worry about risk­ing your re­la­tion­ship.

Sor­row creates the urge to do some­thing “mean­ing­ful” but that can take many forms… a tat­too, a mem­ory book of pho­tos and anec­dotes of times shared, or a do­na­tion to brain can­cer re­search is an­other choice.

Yes, it’s your body. And five months is still a short re­la­tion­ship so far. Yet, if you want it to last and be­lieve it’ll be an equal, re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ship, his sen­si­tiv­i­ties mat­ter too.

De­cide when you’re cer­tain how you want to hon­our your brother’s life.

Q-A year ago, I be­came close with a man I knew through other friends. My hus­band passed away five years ago; this man’s wife passed two years ago. He’s 77, and I’m 58.

He has pic­tures of his wife all over his home, and vis­its the ceme­tery 15-16 times per month.

He says he’ll re­move the pic­tures when I come over, but I know he’ll prob­a­bly put them back af­ter I leave.

We live 300 miles apart, talk on the phone reg­u­larly, and make time to get to­gether.

He says he loves me and wants to be with me, and I love him, but I can't deal with the pic­tures and the vis­its to the ceme­tery. Am I overreacting? Cu­ri­ous in Chicago

A-It’s too soon to know if you’re overreacting.

Given that he’s un­com­fort­able while liv­ing on his own to re­move th­ese pho­tos, his be­hav­iour isn’t that un­usual.

Also, if he has adult chil­dren he may feel even more un­com­fort­able re­mov­ing the pho­tos un­til he’s def­i­nitely moved on e.g. you two liv­ing to­gether or vis­it­ing for long pe­ri­ods as a cou­ple.

Ev­ery­one deals with los­ing a life part­ner dif­fer­ently. Some clear the clos­ets right away, oth­ers go to the ceme­tery to re­flect on the past while they ad­just to the present.

He says he loves you, means he wants a fu­ture.

If you two start mak­ing firmer plans, that’s when to men­tion your pref­er­ence for the pho­tos to be stored away, and for the ceme­tery vis­its to be less fre­quent.

(Go with him at least once, to ac­knowl­edge his pre­vi­ous life, as he should do with you, if you want deeper close­ness).

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