DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I'm having a problem with my mother-in-law. She calls us way too much -- at least four times a day, every single day. She doesn't work anymore, and feels lonely and bored, and I can understand that. We are very busy people and we don't get very much time to spend with our son, because we work all day, so we really cherish the little time we have with him in the evenings. She's also kind of rude when she calls. She likes to talk up and over you, after asking you a question. Also, her conversations consist of chit-chat, which I do not have time for. I have gotten to the point where I just don't answer when I see the number (call me evil if you wish). I have been trying to limit it to once a day. My husband also doesn't say anything because he thinks it's funny. Well, I certainly do not find it very funny. I know she is bored and lonely, and I can completely understand, but how do I let her know without breaking her heart? -- Mother-In-Law Problem, Winnipeg
Dear M-I-L Problem: Go for the root of the problem first -- boredom and loneliness. Try to convince your mother-in-law how much fun she'd have at a part-time job or doing volunteer work through Volunteer Manitoba (www.volunteermanitoba.ca (204-477-5180) and actually open the website with her, if necessary. As for the phone calling, tell her you enjoy speaking to her, but you need her to call at such-and-such a time after work. If she knows she has a time to call in the evening, she may not need to make the multiple calls. Get your husband to take at least half of those calls, as he is the one she loves the most, and it amuses him that she calls so much. It clearly doesn't amuse you.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I read the letter from Crying Without Knowing and felt compelled to write. My mother passed away two years ago after a lengthy illness. I did cry a little but did not have (and still have not had) the "big cry." This worried me a little, as we were very close and I had some hard decisions to make at the end. However, many friends and people I work with were very supportive of my situation, encouraging me to speak of my mother. Tears did fall. Everyone said to not hide them, as they were tears of sorrow, honour and love. The pain of loss lasts differently for each of us. I still miss my mother very much, but the pain of loss is now gone. Speak of your mother and the tears will flow. Do not hide them, but wear them with love and honour. (My mother came to see me about a year after she passed; I know she is with her Father in Heaven, and this comforts me greatly.) -- Daughter of an Angel, Winnipeg
Dear Daughter of Angel: Thanks for taking the time to write in to offer comfort to this lady who also hasn't cried the big cry (and had surprise tears running down her face). Although she has not felt able to talk about the death of her loved one for fear of feeling more grief, it is now time to start. If she sheds tears over a loved one with someone who wants to talk about it, she may find another person who shares her grief. They can comfort each other. Sharing grief is one of the beautiful things about people in this life and people should allow themselves the vulnerability and the sweet comfort of that experience.
Questions or comments? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or send letters c/o Miss Lonelyhearts, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg R2X 3B6