Dear Amy: My wife and I have been self-isolating and practicing social distancing. We both really miss our 3-year-old grandson.
I am 71 and in relatively good health, although I do have a couple of “underlying conditions,” (in addition to my age) that put me in a higher risk group, so I am holding firm about keeping my distance from other people, including my children and grandson.
The problem is, my wife is 64 and believes that she is not at high risk and “has never been sick.” She wants to resume babysitting our grandson.
Unfortunately, this has become a contentious issue between us, making a bad situation even worse.
While I would love to have our grandson stay with us, doing so would put us all at additional risk.
I have suggested to her that I would not want her poor judgment to risk my well-being, and offered as an alternative for her to stay with my daughter’s family so she could spend time with our grandson without compromising my safety.
So far, she has declined this alternative, but seems to become more depressed every day. Her negativity is toxic to us both.
I would appreciate your thoughts.
— Perplexed Grampa in Florida
Dear Perplexed: Your “never-been-sick” wife could be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 (so could you), and – if so — her desire to be with your grandson (at either house) could expose the little guy – and his family – to the virus.
I raise this possibility, because you should both be tested before you end your exile, and should only venture back out into the world on the go-ahead from your doctor. Your grandson’s family should also be tested before mingling with you.
We are all lonely. We all want this to end. But each household should adjust their standards and behavior to the needs and risks of their most vulnerable family member. In your household – that’s you.
Your wife has legitimate needs, too, and if her depression seems not to be lifting, or is worsening, please reach out to your family doctor for a referral to a therapist.
Support groups also offer free, nonjudgmental support and guidance during this challenging time. Social media is the most wide-reaching way to connect. Search “coronavirus support groups” on Facebook and click on the “groups” tab at the top of the page. There are many groups devoted to sharing information (and virtual hugs) in your state.
Dear Amy: With great disappointment, our nephew has canceled his wedding reception next month due to COVID-19, but will still tie the knot as scheduled, with only parents and siblings present.
The reception for family and friends is now scheduled for June of next year.
Our families would like to know when to send wedding gifts to the couple. This seems like more than an etiquette question in these strange times. Sending them now would honor the event, let them know we are thinking of them, and celebrate their union with more immediacy. If we wait until their reception next year, perhaps the thought of receiving gifts might be more celebratory for the couple.
These two folks don’t NEED anything, but we love them and want to show our support the best way we can.
— Devoted Aunt
Dear Devoted: When it comes to wedding etiquette, the pandemic seems to have opened up an entirely new set of challenges.
There is no one way to respond to a postponed wedding, but the best way is always to anchor to sincerity and kindness.
I suggest you send your gift (along with a warmly written letter) to coincide with their wedding ceremony. You might also want to donate masks or other PPE in their honor to a nearby hospital or nursing home.
Dear Amy: I disagreed with your response to “Sad Dad,” whose very accomplished daughter was missing her high school graduation (along with the rest of her class, and so many others). A family member had responded to this sadness by saying, basically, “That’s life. Buck up.”
I couldn’t believe that you agreed with this! Wow, are you always this mean?
Dear Upset: The family member didn’t say “buck up,” but, “Welcome to adult life. How you handle bad luck and disappointment will determine your long-term success.”
I agreed with this statement, and said it should have been offered with more gentleness and compassion. Then: “My heart goes out to these kids. I wish I could take each and every one of them to the prom.”
And I sincerely mean that.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.