Texting the dead: Healthy coping or morbid fixation?

Dear Annie: I have been dating my boyfriend for two years now. He had lost his fiancee three years before we began dating. The problem I am having is he still has his deceased fiancee’s phone number saved in his phone. He sometimes texts her, but, of course, it goes nowhere. I did ask him about it but he said he does not do it too much anymore. I found out by accident that he texted her the other night. Should I be worried? He is very sensitive and I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but it is morbid to me. What should I do? — I’m Concerned

Dear Concerned: In a TED Talk in November 2018, writer and podcaster Nora McInerny spoke about how, when people we love die, we don’t “move on”; we simply move forward. It’s a poignant, insightful, at times humorous talk, and I recommend finding it and watching it online. I thought of Nora’s words while reading your letter. Your boyfriend has moved forward with his life, even as he still cares for the fiancee who lost hers. Though it might seem unusual for him to text her, it’s not unhealthy, as long as it’s not interfering with his life.

I get the impression that you two have a great relationship: You’ve been able to ask him about this topic without him becoming defensive; you’re writing out of concern for his well-being, not out of jealousy or insecurity. With that level of openness and empathy, you can trust that you’ll know if anything is truly wrong with him or between you two. In short, don’t sweat it.

Dear Annie: Your response to “Unhappy Player,” who was wondering how to “break up” with his or her bridge partner who was experiencing cognitive decline, was perfect. What only could have been better was if it had been published on June 21 to coincide with the Alzheimer’s Association’s “Longest Day.” The American Contract Bridge League partners with them.

When my wife, Mary, had a small incident (connected with cognitive decline), management forbade me from ever bringing her back. That was in early June, and by the end of July I was forced to move her to an assisted living memory care facility. Social isolation certainly escalated her decline. The story is chronicled at https://bridgefeed.acbl.org/the-longest-day-hits-home. — Richard O.

Dear Richard: I appreciate your sharing your personal story so that others might learn the importance of empathy in such situations. Thank you bringing attention to the Longest Day. Readers can learn more at http://www.alz.org/thelongestday.

Dear Annie: My husband and I had a precious loved one pass away a while ago, and through the years they had bought a lot of military clothing and accessories through military clothing and Army surplus stores online.

We want to sell this stuff as we no longer have room for all of it. We live in a very small area and so far no one wants all this stuff; even thrift stores don’t want it. Any suggestions on what to do or reputable websites that would buy this would be greatly appreciated! — Too Patriotic

Dear Too Patriotic: Online resale platforms such as eBay and Etsy will be your best allies in finding new homes for this surplus of Army surplus gear. Both platforms are reputable and have built-in security and fraud-prevention measures that offer you means of recourse should someone not pay for the item. You might also look into sending the items to a textile recycling organization, such as the American Textile Recycling Service; visit atrscorp.com to learn more about contributing clothes and even hosting your own donation box.

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“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

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