Sense & Sensitivity | Tips

DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine passed away recently, but not before she asked me to take care of all her business. I quickly stepped in to help her, got a lawyer and all the other things needed to make sure she was ready. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, her former partner came to me asking for money. He said he had bought a house with her years before and he claimed she owed him money. This transaction was something I knew nothing about. There was no trace of that either. Even he couldn’t show me anything, certainly no legal document of the loan he said he gave her.

He got mad at me when I told him I couldn’t repay the loan. I love this guy, but what was I supposed to do? I referred him to his lawyer, but he got angry and accused me of stealing his money. What I did as executor was distribute the money as she requested, in partnership with the lawyer. I don’t know what else to do to satisfy this ex. Do I still have to give him a small check? — Real estate madness

DEAR REAL ESTATE MADNESS: Consult your lawyer and follow his instructions to the letter of the law. As executor of your friend’s estate, your legal obligation is to her. You have the lawyer for one reason: to help you take care of his business legally. Unfortunately, there are often great emotions when someone dies, and people often come out of the woodwork asking for money if they think the deceased had something to offer.

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Your friend’s ex may be telling the truth about the loan. His mistake was not documenting the loan when it was made and not managing his affairs with her before her death. For some reason he waited too long. You can’t fix a problem you don’t know exists. Apologize to him for having your hands tied, but don’t write him a check. Your friend’s assets are not affected by this.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I come from a small close family. I have three brothers and sisters and we are all attentive to our mother, who is over 90 and fragile. We have weathered COVID-19, broken bones and all sorts of other things and are grateful that she is still alive. What we haven’t done is talk about what happens when she passes. I think we don’t want to face the inevitable, but it’s worth talking about. How can I talk about it without being morbid? My sister who lives near her talks about all the rest of her care, but never about what’s next. — Make plans

DEAR MAKE PLANS: Reach out to your caregiver and tell her you think it’s time to talk about the future. Ask her if your mother has ever said what she wants to happen when she dies. You might be surprised to learn that she shared her plans with someone. If so, ask about the plan. If not, suggest that you and your other siblings schedule a time to talk in the near future to discuss your thoughts.

Most important: find out if your mother has funds through personal savings or insurance to pay for a funeral and burial or cremation. If she doesn’t, decide between yourselves how you will manage the expenses, which can be considerable. Think about your mother’s preferences: type of service, music, readings, speakers. Talk about it to get an idea of ​​what she might like. If your mother is sane, ask her directly. This doesn’t have to be a morbid conversation. Everyone dies, and she knows it. Find out what she wants, if you think she can tell you.

This conversation between siblings or with your mother doesn’t have to be long and drawn-out, but it’s wise to have it before you grieve.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend and I always have a lot of fun – we go for car rides, have dinner, watch movies and go for a run. Lately she’s been busy with things like college tours and swimming, and I feel like she doesn’t have time for me. We’ve been trying to make a plan to get together for two weeks, and I’m tired of feeling like she has to schedule me. I often wonder why I’m not a priority and if friendship is worth maintaining when it feels so one-sided. What should I do? — Problems in friendships

DEAR PROBLEM IN FRIENDSHIPS: Don’t write off your friend so quickly. Being a teenager is not easy, as you well know. Learning to manage shifting priorities can be incredibly difficult, even when you’re close. It seems like your friend is busier than you right now, which only makes it harder for you to be patient.

I advise you to take a step back. Your friend is busy. Rather than pressuring her to give you time, focus on your life and your responsibilities. Also, look around and see if there are other classmates you can hang out with. Now might be a good time to broaden your horizons so that you don’t depend so much on that friend for your social life.

Don’t be mad at her, though, for living her life. When she comes back, make room for her. Rather than blaming her for ignoring you, welcome her back. You can let her know that you missed her and that you are happy to spend time with her again.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My niece recently had a baby. She is the first baby of this generation and we are all delighted for her. For Christmas, everyone wants to give her a ton of presents. I’m sure that’s not ideal, although we should probably give him a few things. Should I tell my niece what she needs most instead of buying her a ton of stuff? Part of me wants to spoil the baby, but practicality says I should talk to his mom. — Gifts for the baby

DEAR GIFTS FOR THE BABY: Especially since there’s only one baby left in the family now, you’re right that there’s a good chance she’ll be showered with gifts. By all means, talk to your niece. Find out what would be most useful to him, including money. It might not sound particularly fun, but helping start a college fund could be a fantastic idea. The baby won’t know the difference, but your niece will thank you in 18 years! Or your niece may appreciate a cash gift that will help support her household. Find out and follow his example.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m in my last year of high school and the pressure is intense. It seems like my friends and I are constantly mad at someone. There’s so much tension between groups of friends and people dating or not and trying to figure out relationships. Also, we are applying to college and worrying about whether we will get in or not. I tell my mom about it, and she’s pretty helpful, but it’s just too much. I don’t know how to manage this time. One week I have friends, and the next week I feel like no one is my friend. How can I stay calm and continue to do my job through it all? — Overwhelmed

DEAR EXCEEDED: I feel your pain. My daughter is a senior in high school and I see how stress can take over. We practice meditation, which can be helpful. Try this: Sit quietly with your feet flat on the floor and your eyes closed. Take three deep breaths. As you inhale, feel the oxygen filling your body. Imagine that your breath cleanses your whole body. As you exhale, release any tension you feel in your body. Repeat this for a series of three cleansing breaths. Next, breathe naturally. With your eyes closed, continue to observe your breath as it enters and exits your body. When thoughts arise, notice them, but don’t try to hold on to them. Let the thoughts pass like clouds in the sky. Some thoughts can be happy. Some can be ominous, like storm clouds. Whatever they are, let them come and go. Invite yourself to calm. With each natural breath, give yourself permission to be still and calm. After three to five minutes (however long you have to spend), open your eyes. This simple meditative moment can help you calm down and access your inner strength.

During your day, when the drama begins to mount, pause and do a mini-meditation. It will help you regain control of yourself in the midst of so many things that are beyond your control. Trust that you can get through this and that this extremely emotional time in your life will pass.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m coming home for Christmas and I’m feeling nervous about it. I gained a ton of weight during quarantine. As I was trying on clothes to find out how to dress during my visit, I realize that most of my clothes are too small. I feel extremely embarrassed to see my family and friends in my hometown. I haven’t been home for a long time – since before COVID-19. The person they remember is not the person I am today, at least not my appearance. I don’t want to deal with people asking me what’s wrong with me and criticizing me about my weight. What can I do to overcome this? I want to see my family, but I’m afraid of how I will be received. — A bit heavy

EXPENSIVE A LITTLE HEAVY: According to the Harvard Review, researchers surveyed 15 million people about weight gain during the pandemic and found that 39% of Americans gained weight during this time, with more than 10% gaining more than 12.5 pounds. . What you have experienced is real and you are not alone. Chances are, family members and friends in your hometown have also gained weight. Although you’re feeling particularly awkward right now, you might be in similar company when you get home.

What you can do is select items from your wardrobe that fit you, even if it’s just a few clothes. Head to the store to complete a few key items if you really need them. You can shop anywhere from a department store to a specialty store to a thrift store. You can find clothes at any price these days. When you are well dressed, you will feel better about yourself. Also, decide to put yourself on a healthier path. It will also give you confidence.

When you get home, if the critics start commenting, stop them. Tell them you know you’ve gained weight and are working to reverse it. Thank them for keeping their comments to themselves.

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