Dear Amy: My mother-in-law passed away last month.
I had asked my wife if she would be willing to delay her mother’s memorial service for three or four months until COVID recedes, but she and her siblings have decided to proceed with a memorial service next month.
My wife’s Mom lived 2,000 miles away from us, so we would need to fly to the memorial service.
There will be a church service and a meal afterward, where people will share their stories.
The meal will be either outside or in a banquet room (depending on the weather).
Many of the attendees have been vaccinated for COVID.
I am 64 years old and have been vaccinated.
I have a few health issues, which are not currently on the list of high-risk factors.
I would prefer not to attend, and I get anxious when I think about flying and being in a group setting.
I would like to visit her home with my wife sometime next year and pay my respects then.
However, my wife and her siblings may feel that I am being disrespectful if I do not attend.
All of the other family members are currently planning to attend.
Do you have any guidance?
Dear Conflicted: I venture that your reluctance to make this trip is based more on your free-floating anxiety than on specific risk factors to your own health – understanding that the overall fear of contracting COVID is overwhelming – for you and for many.
The pandemic has pushed many of us into a state of high-alert, and existing in that state, especially while we are also isolated, is particularly exhausting and paralyzing.
I can’t advise you as to whether to take this on. You are obviously very anxious about it; you obviously don’t want to do it. Tiptoeing out into the world in stages would be easier on you than hopping onto a plane for a long flight.
All the same, although you could be exposed to COVID virtually anywhere, I’m not aware of any major outbreaks within the last year occurring as the result of flying.
Staying home is always safest. Staying home prevents you from being hit by a drunk driver on the highway. Not being around others will inoculate you from colds, allergies, and emotional wear-and-tear.
But as Robert Frost famously wrote, “…the best way out is always through.”
Getting “through” should be your goal.
Talk with your wife. Given the level of your concern, it might be easiest on her if you stayed home.
I recently attended a memorial service via ZOOM, and it was both moving and lovely.
Dear Amy: This is an insignificant problem, but I’d appreciate your opinion.
I have white hair and I think I look good wearing black.
When I am out in public with an acquaintance or co-worker, I can be in mid-sentence when some people will suddenly pick at my black shirt, and then say, “There was a hair on your shirt.”
It seems like they feel compelled to do this.
I feel like an orangutan.
I have sometimes said, partly joking, “I feel like I’m being groomed.”
Are they doing me a favor, plucking one of my white hairs off my shirt?
Is it the same as if I had food on my face, or if my pants were unzipped?
Should I be embarrassed, but grateful to have this pointed out?
I am about to give away all my black tops.
– White on Black
Dear White on Black: When people do this, they are not doing you a favor; they are treating their own discomfort — by removing something that distracts them and pulls their focus away from you.
You might never feel this impulse to smooth, straighten, or pluck (nor do I), but I agree with your instinct that doing so is something of a compulsion for people who cannot seem to resist.
Dear Amy: I’d like to thank “Old Veteran” for expressing the same discomfort I feel when people thank me for my military service.
I don’t regret being in the military but, given that the war I served in (Afghanistan) didn’t seem to lead to anything positive for anyone, I don’t think anyone has anything to thank me for.
– Another Old Veteran
Dear Veteran: I’ve had a huge response to the heartfelt letter from this Vietnam veteran – most of it compassionate and understanding.
Regarding your own service – it seems that people know how to start wars, but don’t know how to end them.
Your willingness to serve inspires gratitude, regardless of the outcome.
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