I had a miscarriage three weeks ago. My husband and I are gutted. Still, I was relieved (if you can call it that) that we lost the pregnancy early enough that very few people knew about it — just my mother, my sister and my best friend. I thought: At least we can grieve in private. But my sister is telling people about my miscarriage, even posting about it on social media. She says she has the right to post whatever she wants, particularly if the medical care I received may be threatened in some states. I am furious that she is broadcasting my tragedy! I want her to stop, but I don’t have the strength to fight with her now. What should I do?
I am so sorry for your loss. What heartens me in your letter, though, is your keen awareness that you and your husband need time to grieve. Be gentle with yourselves now. Too often, we try to power through our tragedies and rush back to our daily lives. But your life (and your sister) will still be there when you’re feeling better.
As for your sister, I can’t fathom how she rationalizes her cruel behavior. The story of your miscarriage is for you alone to tell — and only if you want to tell it. There is nothing special about social media or political debate that gives her the right to violate your privacy this way. Let’s hope we can help her see that.
Normally, I would suggest talking to her, but it seems that you may not be ready for that yet. Deploy your mother or best friend (or perhaps your husband) instead. They should tell her to delete her social media posts about your loss and to stop exploiting your tragedy. She should also know that she is jeopardizing her relationship with you. If you need more help, get back in touch with me, OK?
Avoiding a Spill on Aisle 5
I was a manager at a big-box store for many years. At least once a month, a child who was riding in a shopping cart would stand up to reach for something on a shelf, lose his balance and fall out. Occasionally, the children suffered serious injuries. We were trained to ask parents to keep their children seated. My question: When I am at the market and see children standing in carts, I want to say something to the parents, but I don’t. I’m not sure how they will respond. Your thoughts?
Oh, I would definitely say something! Most parents would probably prefer their children to remain seated safely in carts but often lose the war of wills with them somewhere near the cereal aisle. It may be extremely helpful to inform them about the dangers involved (without making them feel like unfit parents).
Try something like: “This is none of my business, but I worked at a store with shopping carts for years. I’ve seen many serious injuries from kids standing up in them. I thought you might want to know.” I expect most parents will thank you for your thoughtfulness.
When Patience Wears as Thin as the Walls
Our next-door neighbors in our apartment building hung a cuckoo clock on our common wall. The walls are thin, so we hear the clock chiming loud and clear — every hour, day and night. My husband and I are having trouble sleeping because of the noise; it often wakes us during the night. Is it fair to ask our neighbors to take down the clock? Should I speak to them or go directly to the landlord?
Asking neighbors to be quiet at night seems reasonable to me. As long as you have a good (or neutral) relationship with them, head next door and calmly explain the problem. They’re probably unaware of it. They may also be unaware of the manual lever on most cuckoo clocks that silences the chiming.
If the noise only bothers you at night, ask them to switch off the chimes in the evening. (You may need to remind them occasionally, but that’s the essence of close quarters.) If you don’t want to hear the chimes at all, perhaps your neighbors can hang the clock elsewhere in their apartment. I would go to the landlord only if your neighborly approach is rebuffed.
Taking a Request for Privacy in Stride
I have walked at the local mall for seven years — five days a week, four miles a day. I’ve become friendly with many fellow walkers. Recently, I befriended a woman my age who brings her granddaughter to walk. The grandmother seems depressed and angry, though, and after three weeks of walking with them, she told me she preferred to walk alone. (The granddaughter told me that it wasn’t my fault, and that she had enjoyed walking with me.) What should I do?
Respect the grandmother’s wishes and wave when you see them on your rounds. She may prefer to speak to her granddaughter privately or let her mind wander during their walks. You didn’t do anything wrong. But now that you know the older woman’s preference, honor it.
For help with your awkward situation, send a question to SocialQ@nytimes.com, to Philip Galanes on Facebook or @SocialQPhilip on Twitter.