Ask Amy: Family plans for memorial service during pandemic trigger anxiety


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 by three or four months until COVID recedes, but she and her siblings decided to have a memorial service next month. .

My wife’s mother lived 3,000 kilometers from us, so we had to fly to the memorial service.

There will be a church service and a meal afterwards, where people will share their stories.

The meal will be either outside or in a banquet hall (depending on the weather).

Many participants have been vaccinated against COVID.

I am 64 years old and am vaccinated.

I have a few health issues that are not currently on the high risk factor list.

I would prefer not to attend and I get anxious when I think of flying and being in a group.

I would like to visit her at her house with my wife next year and pay her my respects then.

However, my wife and her siblings may think I disrespect if I don’t attend.

All other family members are currently planning to attend.

Do you have any advice?

– Conflict

Dear Conflict, I guess your reluctance to take this trip is based more on your floating anxiety than on specific risk factors for your own health – knowing that the overall fear of contracting COVID is overwhelming – for you and for many.

The pandemic has put many of us on high alert, and to exist in that state, especially when we are also isolated, is particularly exhausting and crippling.

I cannot advise you on whether to take this. You are obviously very worried about this; you obviously don’t want to do that. Tiptoeing around the world in stages would be easier for you than getting on a plane for a long flight.

Nonetheless, while you can be exposed to COVID virtually anywhere, I am not aware of any major outbreaks that have occurred in the past year as a result of theft.

Staying at home is always the safest. Staying home prevents you from being hit by a drunk driver on the freeway. Not being with others will immunize you against colds, allergies, and emotional wear and tear.

But as Robert Frost wrote, “… the best way out is always to go through this. “

Getting “through” should be your goal.

Talk to your wife. Given the level of your worry, it might be easier for her if you stayed home.

I recently attended a memorial service through Zoom, and it was both touching and charming.

Dear Amy: This is an insignificant problem, but I would appreciate your advice.

I have white hair and I think I look good in black.

When I’m in public with an acquaintance or colleague, I can be in the middle of a sentence when some people suddenly take on my black shirt and then say, “There was a hair on your shirt. “

It seems they feel compelled to do so.

I feel like an orangutan.

I have sometimes said, partly joking, “I feel like I’m being taken care of.

Are they doing me a favor by pulling one of my white hair out of my shirt?

Is it the same as if I had food on my face or my pants weren’t zipped up?

Should I be embarrassed, but grateful that this is pointed out?

I’m about to give all my black tops off.

– White on black

Dear White on Black: When people do that, they are doing you a disservice; they are dealing with their own discomfort – by removing something that is distracting them and taking their attention away from you.

You might never feel that urge to smooth, straighten, or pluck (neither will I), but I agree with your gut that doing it is kind of a strain on people who don’t seem not be able to resist.

Dear Amy: I would like to thank “Old Veteran” for expressing the same unease 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.

– Another former veteran

Dear Vet: I had a huge response to this Vietnam Vet‘s heartfelt letter – most with compassion and understanding.

Regarding your own service, it seems people know how to start wars, but don’t know how to end them.

Your willingness to serve inspires gratitude, regardless of the outcome.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)


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