Dear Amy: I am getting married in a little over a year and will be moving out of my mom’s home.
I’m scared to move out, however, because then my mom will be all alone.
My dad died of cancer two years ago, and my sister is getting ready to go to college, away from our hometown.
I’m afraid my mom will be lonely or become depressed in our absence. It makes me hesitate to make decisions for my future home or even my wedding because I don’t want to think about how it might affect my mom in the future.
How do I deal with this guilt I’m feeling, and the feeling that I’m leaving my mother all alone?
Of course, I intend to spend as much time with her as I can, even when I’m starting my own life. I just don’t know how to not feel guilty about it. — Distraught Daughter
Dear Distraught: Guilt is a tricky and sticky emotion.
People who have experienced grave losses, like you have, often bear guilt — along with their grief — as intertwined and intractable feelings.
Young and healthy survivors sometimes feel guilty, simply because they are still here, while their loved one is gone.
I’m suggesting that you find ways to examine your guilt more fully, to try to discern where its roots are (a therapist or grief counselor would help).
You don’t say much about your mother’s response to your father’s death. No doubt she has relied on you and your sister for comfort and company, but most parents accept that a child’s job is to eventually leave home, while the parent’s job is to let them. Yes, your mother is facing another transition. She might feel sad and lonely. You must trust that she can find ways to manage her feelings, just as you will find ways to tolerate and manage your own. Your duty is to live your own life, freely and fully.
Talk to her. She may have ideas for her own future that she hasn’t yet shared with you. If it appeals to her, co-housing with a friend (or another amiable adult) might be a positive short-term plan.
Understand that even if your mother is conflicted (she will surely miss you), your decision to marry is an optimistic and beautiful bid on your future.
Dear Amy: I am a woman working for a corporation. I have a male co-worker at a similar professional level who asks me questions about his/our work on a daily basis. None of my other co-workers ask me as many questions as he does.
Sometimes these questions have a simple answer, like confirming deadlines, and I give him the benefit of the doubt and provide the answer when I know it.
More frequently the questions are, “How do I...?” I feel like these should be directed to a supervisor, since my job responsibilities do not include training other employees.
My response is usually to grudgingly help if I have the time, or an “I don’t know, sorry” if I don’t know or don’t feel like answering.
I’m torn between being a team player and being a tattletale. While I don’t mind helping out when I can, I honestly feel his questions are directed to me too frequently. Sometimes he finds the answer himself only a few minutes after sending me the question, which makes me feel like I’m his first option and that he doesn’t care if he wastes my time.
Should I pretend I don’t know the answers and hope this discourages him, while keeping the peace, or do I need to be assertive and tell him he should be asking our boss these questions instead? — Not Your Google
Dear Not Your Google: You should speak to your colleague. Tell him, “I’m happy to help you out from time to time, but you should try your hardest to find the answer on your own before asking me. If you feel you need more training, I assume our supervisor would help.”
In terms of your temptation to tattle, “Charles bugs me by asking too many work-related questions” might backfire.
Dear Amy: “Rich Uncle” noted that he has a very small, distant family, and that none of his family members seem interested in having a relationship with him. Thank you for suggesting that he plan for his own future, including spending down some of his wealth during his lifetime to causes and organizations he supports. — Fiscally Sound
Dear Sound: “Rich Uncle” cannot take his wealth with him.
You can contact Amy Dickinson via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or “like” her on Facebook.