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I’m Grieving for the First Time. Can I Talk About It?

  • December 04, 2020

You will make your own path. Over time, you may feel less urgency in speaking of your aunt. But until then, be generous with yourself. An important person has left this world. Her loss and meaning in your life are important questions to consider.

My mother lives in a senior-living apartment building. Residents can buy a meal plan or cook for themselves. The woman who lives beneath my mother cooks, and her cooking odors come directly into my mother’s apartment. My mother opens windows and turns on a special fan provided by management, but the smells persist. It doesn’t help that the woman cooks at 8 p.m., later than normal dinnertime. We realize this woman has every right to eat when she wants to, but shouldn’t management speak to her about ventilation in her apartment? Or maybe my mother should speak to the woman directly?


Listen, I get feeling protective of an older parent. But I’m also wary of unduly burdening the woman downstairs. She has a right to sustenance (even at the scandalous hour of 8 p.m.). And the responsibility for properly ventilating apartments falls squarely on the shoulders of building management. Don’t let up on them!

The building should hire a mechanical engineer to solve this issue or move your mother to another unit. The woman downstairs may be asked for reasonable access to her apartment to fix the problem. But she has a right to cook and enjoy her unit, and it’s not fair to expect her to correct the building’s mechanical problems.

I have a friend with whom I interact socially and professionally. In direct communication, he’s lovely. But his social media presence is toxic. He is quite far to the left, which is fine, but I’m tired of how vicious he is to anyone who disagrees with him. Our field operates on social media, so I can’t abandon the platform. Should I mute him or talk to him about his cursing and name-calling?

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