When the pandemic first hit, a very close friend/neighbour overreacted. Groceries had to be sanitized in the garage, clothes changed upon entering the house and our morning coffee meetings discontinued (though outside and socially distanced).
I wasn’t allowed into her house despite my being in total isolation.
When she accidentally mentioned a friend, who’d been over for dinner, she quickly added that it’d been on the patio with everyone six feet apart.
Before Christmas she announced that she and her husband were going to their winter home in Florida.
When I questioned the wisdom of her decision, she said it made no difference where you isolate, and they weren't spending the winter here.
Since going south she’s posted photos of them attending outdoor functions and has told people that they’re going for their COVID-19 vaccinations because they can get them in Florida.
I’m angry and hurt that this couple cares only for themselves and is inconsiderate of those they may infect upon their return.
How do I tell them that I can no longer be friends with them?
It’s about individual values, not friendship. These people aren’t alone in taking advantage of ways to care for themselves first.
In some publicized cases, people resort to lying and cheating the system to get into the lineup for a needle jab of vaccine, never mind if it means there’s not enough left for those more needy of protection.
But in cases where people own a home in Florida, where at one point the economy-focused Governor invited snowbirds to come get vaccinated there, the picture gets blurred:
Do they stay here through winter like the rest of us, while still paying for their property upkeep? Even when they could be in the sun, distanced socially, and wearing masks if they choose?
Many have given up that alluring option. But a considerable number have not, partly because of valid complaints by some Americans about “their” vaccine allotment being given to non-citizens (though there are apparently exceptions made for property owners).
Your once-close friend/neighbour has shucked off initial pandemic panic for me-first survival.
It’s not pretty, but it’s pretty common when the going gets tough for a large population. Some will care about others, others will not.
Focusing on friends whom you respect more because of shared values will help you get past caring about what this couple does. If you still feel angry when they return, tell them you prefer being distanced.
Reader’s Commentary Regarding grieving after death of a loved one (January 19):
“I could feel the writer’s pain and the care and empathy in your response.
“As a grief therapist, I’m suggesting additional references to help those who mourn a loss.
“The Elisabeth Kubler-Ross set way of thinking (On Death and Dying), that people experience grief and find “acceptance,” can feel overwhelming and is often misunderstood.
“Many grievers see the five-stages model as something they’ll experience in order, without understanding that the research was focused on the dying, and for grievers to understand grief’s non-linear framework.
“I’ve heard clients feeling they’re failing or not grieving “right” because they’re not going through these stages.
“In my work, I spend a lot of time talking about grief as the form that love takes after a loved one has died - grief integration, adaptation to loss, and how to maintain a relationship with a loved one after they’ve died. Because grief is messy and non-linear, and each person experiences it in their own individual way.
“Some other ways of thinking about grief: William Worden's Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy; The Dual Process Model of Coping with Bereavement (Stroebe, Schut); Thoughtful observations on grief: Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking; C. S. Lewis' A Grief Observed; Megan Devine’s It's Okay that You're not Okay.”
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman who’s 70 and “hot for sex” but in a relationship with a man who’s 72 and “nothing at all” regarding sexual interest (January 18):
Reader – “I got to where Viagra and other drugs like it did not work at any dose.
“I finally found a combination of drugs that generally go by the name of Trimix. It is prescribed by a urologist. It is a mix of drugs that is injected directly into the penis. In my case, it produces a hard erection every time.
“When I finally realized that I could get reliably erect, my sexual interest increased.”
Tip of the day:
Friends’ underlying values matter. But during a crisis, they matter far more.