DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend lost her mother last year. I tried to be there for her however I could, but of course there were many times when I was not sure how to show up for her. We had a heart-to-heart recently, and she confessed to me that she was disappointed in the lack of support she received from me last year. She said she felt that I was distant at times and didn't check in on her enough. I'm glad that we had that conversation, but I'm very heartbroken that she felt that way. That was the toughest time of her life, and I let her down. Where do we go from here? Will our friendship ever be the same? -- Heart-to-Heart
DEAR HEART-TO-HEART: As you and your friend continue to talk, let her know how heartbroken you are for not being able to show up the way she needed. Admit that you weren't sure what to do or say sometimes, and that left you silent when you probably should have been doing something else. Ask her to forgive you, and do your best to be more present now.
The reality is that your friend's grief is hardly over. She will continue to have tender moments when she thinks about her mother and needs support. What you can do is be a good listener. Pay attention when your friend talks about her thoughts and feelings, especially about her mother. Invite her to talk about her mother on occasion. Ask her if it's OK for you to share your memories of her mother with her. A way to move past the awkwardness is to agree on what makes her comfortable to talk about.
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DEAR HARRIETTE: A few years ago, a good friend of mine told me that he had romantic feelings for me. I didn't feel the same, and it made things awkward for a moment in time. Eventually, he cut off all communication because he was angry with me for dating someone else. We randomly reconnected a few weeks ago, and it's been great. I really missed him. He seems to be completely fine with the fact that I am going on dates. I haven't been able to completely let my guard down, though, because I'm worried that he may cut me off again for some reason. Is it possible that he could be completely over those romantic feelings and now our friendship can resume without conflict? -- Reconnecting
DEAR RECONNECTING: I recommend that you be direct and talk to your friend about the past and present. Tell him how much you missed him and how deeply you appreciate his friendship. Apologize for not wanting the type of relationship that he had in mind for the two of you as you acknowledge how much you care for him as your friend. Ask him if he is good with you two being platonic friends. Explain that you don't want to end up in a situation like before when he got mad at you for not being on the same page as him. Work it out now so that you create space to relax into a true friendship with him -- or not.