Dear Annie: My father, my brothers and I all served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Only my father and I deployed to combat areas.
Dad retired five years ago and is showing drastic symptoms of PTSD. He is stockpiling food and medical supplies and keeps trying to get my wife and me to “prepare” for when “it all hits the fan.” He spends hours a day obsessively watching the news and getting angry at the television. Our children used to spend time unsupervised with my parents, but that stopped when I found a loaded handgun in his bathroom cabinet.
My mother has broached the topic of therapy, and I’ve offered to go with him, as I’ve been wrestling with some mild PTSD issues myself. But my brothers intercede every time and say Dad’s fine and it’s no big deal, and they convince him not to go. I believe this is dangerous. I’ve been unable to find any home counseling services, and even our pastor says this is out of his realm of expertise. What other options are out there? — New York Son
Dear Son: You may have better luck getting your father to accept help if you approach this as a possible medical problem, rather than a psychiatric issue. We also suggest you ask him to join you for an exercise or yoga class, which can be useful for some PTSD sufferers. Also, please contact the VA’s National Center for PTSD (ptsd.va.gov) or Military One Source (militaryonesource.mil) at 1-800-342-9647, and ask to speak to a counselor or get a referral to local military treatment facilities.
Dear Annie: My maternal grandparents passed within months of each other. My mother hated her parents and kept them away from us. I never knew them well.
I’m in my late 20s and have never been an emotional person. I went to my grandparents’ funerals out of respect, but my sister went overboard, sobbing and moaning during the service even though she knew them less than I did. For weeks after, she emailed and texted me saying she couldn’t sleep and that she’d never “fill the hole” the loss represented.
My sister and my parents say I’m heartless because I didn’t respond this way. My mother actually upbraided me for not weeping sufficiently. People grieve in different ways. How do I nicely ask them to please stop crying on me because it’s making me uncomfortable?
— Not Grieving That Much
Dear Grieving: Unless someone is crying on you day after day, please try to tolerate what you can, and then gently extricate yourself. Pat them on the shoulder. Get them a seat. Ask if they need a tissue. Then walk away. You don’t have to demonstrate such obvious mourning yourself. You are right that everyone grieves differently, and you are not obligated to put on a show. But it would be useful to learn how to convey sympathy to others, whether or not you believe they deserve it.
Dear Annie: I was surprised to learn that people register for housewarming gifts. I thought housewarming gifts were something simple like a loaf of bread, a bottle of wine or flowers. A neighbor brought me a cutting from a cactus that has bloomed on time for more than 40 years.
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I thought you furnished your house yourself as you were able over the years.
— Canaan, Conn.
Dear Canaan: Most guests bring gifts to a housewarming. A registry is a bit much, but there is nothing wrong with having a friend or relative make suggestions when asked.
Dear Readers: We are carrying on Ann Landers’ tradition that April 2 be set aside as Reconciliation Day, a time to make the first move toward mending broken relationships. It also would be the day on which we agree to accept the olive branch extended by a former friend or estranged family member and do our best to start over.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to email@example.com, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
— Creators Syndicate Inc.