Ask Amy: Readers respond with helpful advice

Dear Amy: “Looking for Grief Etiquette” wrote to you about her grief after experiencing a miscarriage.

As a retired obstetrician, I have had considerable experience with this. One point I discussed with patients early in pregnancy was the fact that pregnancy loss is much more common than most people realize.

I suggested that they carefully consider whom they tell about their pregnancy until after the first trimester, when pregnancy loss is much less common, thus avoiding the problem of telling many people the bad news.

I also found advice I was given 15 years ago, when my wife died, very helpful.

The insight was that people who asked, “What can I do?” of a grieving person really are asking because they don’t know how to be helpful.

My answer, at that difficult time, was: “Invite me to dinner.”

I think it was win-win.

This helped me, and I think they were glad to do something that I appreciated. This woman who had miscarried had her answer: “Send me some flowers.” She should not have hesitated to ask this of her friends.

— Neil Kochenour, MD

Dear Dr. Kochenour: Thank you for your helpful wisdom. Regarding miscarriage — I agree that it is most judicious to wait to announce a pregnancy, but even when couples haven’t announced their pregnancy, they often still choose to disclose a miscarriage to their circle of friends and family.

Dear Amy: “Scammed” wrote about the increasingly popular scam of being contacted by a supposedly reputable company which asks you to purchase gift cards.

You suggested that store clerks selling gift cards should be trained to be on the lookout.

I purchased several hundred dollars’ worth of gift cards at my local Giant grocery store, and the clerk did ask me if a third party had asked me to buy the cards.

Out of curiosity, I asked if anyone has ever answered “yes” to that question, and he said that indeed they had stopped many people from falling prey to this scam.

Store employees are certainly a great weapon against these scammers.

— Faithful Customer

Dear Customer: I am very happy to learn that store clerks are helping to educate customers on the danger of gift card scammers.

Dear Amy: I appreciated your response to “Stop Haunting My Dreams,” on what to do when you dream of a former beloved.

Carl Jung suggested that other humans in our dreams often represent unconscious (in the “shadow”) aspects of ourselves that are inviting conscious attention to, and even conscious incorporation of, (some of) the person’s trait(s) into our own personalities.

For instance: What desired aspects of this man does the dreamer need to recognize and develop in herself, for her own use? What thoughts, feelings and behaviors (the discrete elements of personality) does he represent that she could embrace and enact as her own? Not simple questions, but often fruitful.

As Jung was fond of saying, “The unconscious is UN-conscious.” That is — we are not morally responsible for these thoughts surfacing, but it is our moral responsibility to understand and relate to our unconscious when it does.

— Sophia Eurich-Rascoe (Certified Jungian Analyst)

Dear Sophia: I genuinely appreciate your helpful interpretation of Jung’s wisdom.

Dear Amy: Thank you for discussing the importance of funerals and memorial services.

I was someone who never attended funerals — the person was already dead and wouldn’t notice, I reasoned. The value for the family never entered my mind.

And then my husband died. We have six children and our youngest was just six at the time. I can’t tell you what it meant when people came pouring into the church. Their presence said: “I’ve dropped everything to honor this man, and to be with you today.”

Now I drop everything to go to funerals of someone I knew, even casually.

After all, surely everyone is important enough for us to take an hour to honor them, and to provide the family with matchless comfort.

— Show Up

Dear Show Up: Unfortunately, experiences with grief and mourning are our greatest teachers.

Dear Amy: “KQ” asked if it was OK to take wine from a neighboring table in a restaurant after the other party had left.

I experienced this once years ago.

Under a similar circumstance, one of my tablemates helped herself to the wine left at a table next to us.

She had poured us all a glass when those people returned from the salad bar.

I wanted to crawl under the table!

— Mortified

Dear Mortified: A reminder: You should drink no wine before it’s time.

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

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